Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Six charged over forest camps



Six charged over forest camps

Six villagers were provisionally charged on Wednesday for attempting to log in the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary, the site of a REDD+ carbon credit project. Photo supplied
Six villagers were provisionally charged on Wednesday for attempting to log in the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary, the site of a REDD+ carbon credit project. Photo supplied

Six charged over forest camps

Mondulkiri Provincial Court prosecutors have charged six villagers for creating 10 camps within the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary, the same site where Walt Disney Company purchased $2.6 million in carbon credits in 2016.

The six villagers, from nearby provinces, were found in the forest by patrolling rangers and villagers on Saturday and produced before the court on Wednesday, where the prosecutor provisionally charged them with measuring protected land with the intention to clear it, said Kong Puthira, REDD+ project officer at Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary.

The Disney carbon credits initiative is linked to the wildlife sanctuary’s REDD+ project, a United Nations-backed program to combat deforestation by giving local communities funds towards sustainable development projects.

Puthira said the group of six claimed that they had been instructed to clear the land by local NGO Director Pang Chhoun, who used his organisation as a front to initiate the illegal logging operation.

“The six people confessed that they followed the order of the disability NGO director to clear the forest that has been sold to this company [Disney],” Puthira said.

Puthira said that the initial incident report suggested that around 800 villagers were expected to participate in the logging, but Chhoun during questioning said that only 100 people were involved. Chhoun could not be reached on Wednesday.

Mondulkiri court spokesman Meas Pros said he was unaware of the arrests because he was out of the province and Keo Seima District Governor Nuon Sakon did not respond to requests for comment.

Din Bunthoeurn, director of the wildlife sanctuary, said the camps had been burned down and that the six villagers had been released on bail by the investigating judge, adding that he would ask the court to investigate others involved in the case, including the NGO director.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting

  • Covid-19 vaccination now obligatory

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 11 issued a sub-decree making Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for individuals unless they have a medical certificate proving they have pre-existing health conditions that prevent them from doing so. «This applies to all members of the armed forces and civil servants