Officials Seize 1,100 Kg Of Rosewood After Chase

Source : The Cambodia Daily / July 20, 2016 by

Forestry officials in Preah Vihear province confiscated more than 1,100 kg of valuable rosewood early on Tuesday morning, while the two men suspected of transporting the wood were on the run, officials said.

Noun Sokhom, deputy chief of the Forestry Administration’s Preah Vihear cantonment, said two Lexus drivers failed to stop when forestry officials attempted to pull them over upon receiving information that they were transporting the luxury wood through Choam Ksan district.

“We ordered the drivers to stop, but they kept driving in an attempt to escape,” Mr. Sokhom said.

The drivers abandoned their cars at separate locations in Chheb and Kulen districts before escaping on foot, he said, adding that the car left in Chheb was carrying 55 pieces of rosewood weighing 660 kg.

Officials found an additional 129 pieces of wood weighing 458 kg inside the second car, which was abandoned near the Kulen Tbong pagoda, according to Pich Borin, head of the Forestry Administration’s office in Kulen district.

“We brought the car and the wood to the Forestry Administration cantonment office, and we are now investigating to find the wood owners,” Mr. Borin said.

Officials Seize 1,100 Kg Of Rosewood After Chase

Reporters Without Borders ‘Concerned’ by Threats

Source: The Cambodia Daily / July 20, 2016 by

International media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders said in a statement released on Tuesday that it was concerned by what it characterized as a “surge” in threats against journalists and news organizations in Cambodia in recent weeks.

The statement noted that such threats appeared to be on the rise in the wake of a July 7 report by Global Witness detailing the manifold business interests of Prime Minister Hun Sen and his family.

After local newspapers covered the release of the report, members of Mr. Hun Sen’s family accused them of colluding with Global Witness, while government spokesman Phay Siphan said he did not want “the messenger to get killed,” in an apparent reference to the press.

Reporters Without Borders said these and other developments were worrying.

“The reactions of all these officials and members of the prime minister’s family are outrageous even if not entirely surprising,” Benjamin Ismail, the head of the organization’s Asia Pacific desk, said in the statement.

“We caution Hun Sen’s government against any judicial reprisals against media outlets,” he said. “Gagging the press would just make things worse for him.”

Mr. Siphan said on Tuesday that his complaint was only with reporters who “abuse their own ethic[s] and professionalism.”

“Who is in jail because of their reporting?” he asked. “They are corrupt, yes, they abuse their professional[ism], yes. You have to be fair with the government, too,” he said.

“White people speak very good English and twist the story—I don’t like it.”

Reporters Without Borders ‘Concerned’ by Threats

US Envoy Urges Government to Release NGO Staff

Source : The Cambodia Daily / July 20, 2016 by  

A visiting U.S. human rights envoy on Tuesday urged the government to release and drop charges against five current and former rights workers arrested in April amid what he called a deteriorating political situation in which the courts have disproportionately targeted state critics.

The four employees of local rights group Adhoc were arrested along with a former Adhoc officer now working for the National Election Committee (NEC) and charged with bribing a witness for allegedly paying a woman to deny an alleged affair with deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha. Adhoc has rejected the accusation, which has been widely condemned as politically motivated.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski (C), leaves after he paid his respect to the body of Kem Ley, an anti-government figure and the head of grassroots advocacy group "Khmer for Khmer" at a pagoda in Phnom Penh July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Samrang Pring
US Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski attends the wake of slain political analyst Kem Ley in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. (Pring Samrang/Reuters)grassroots advocacy group “Khmer for Khmer” at a pagoda in Phnom Penh July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Samrang Pring

Tom Malinowski, U.S. assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, said he had petitioned government officials to release the rights defenders.

Continue reading “US Envoy Urges Government to Release NGO Staff”

US Envoy Urges Government to Release NGO Staff

US official says military cooperation at risk

Source : The Phnom Penh Post / Wed, 20 July 2016 by , and

Tom Malinowski, the assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor, speaks during a press conference in Phnom Penh yesterday. Heng Chivoan

Military involvement in any political crackdown or human rights abuses could spell the end of US cooperation with Cambodia’s armed forces was the message conveyed yesterday by a State Department official.

Continue reading “US official says military cooperation at risk”

US official says military cooperation at risk

Mine official penalties mooted

Source : The Phnom Penh Post / Wed, 20 July 2016 by

A man shovels sediment into a pile after it passed through a sluice at a gold field in Preah Vihear’s Rovieng district last year. Heng Chivoan

Official issuing resource-extraction licences have been told to follow proper procedures or face disciplinary action after the Ministry of Mines and Energy discovered a company approved to dredge sand in Ratanakkiri was mining gold instead.

The Chhay Ching Heang Group’s sand-dredging licence was revoked after lab results confirmed the company was extracting gold, ministry spokesman Meng Saktheara said yesterday.

No further action would be taken against the company because there was not enough evidence, Saktheara said. The company couldn’t be reached for comment.

A review of the process to issue the company’s licence found that officials had never visited the site and assumed there was no gold in the area based on a prior assessment in a nearby location, Saktheara said. “They should have gone out to the site and collected samples,” he said.

Saktheara said the ministry had since informed officials that those who failed to follow protocols – such as conducting an assessment of the area prior to issuing a licence to see if other mineral resources are available – would face “disciplinary measures”.

However, he said no one had been disciplined over the failure to follow protocol in this instance. “From now on, there will be disciplinary measures,” Saktheara said.

On Monday, the ministry also created a performance assessment committee to keep tabs on its provincial counterparts because no one took action against Chhay Ching Heang Group, even though the company began to operate before it received its licence in May.

The committee was created “to make sure they uphold ethical standards”, Saktheara said. San Chey, executive director of accountability watchdog ANSA-EAP, said that better governance was needed in the sector.

Mine official penalties mooted

Call for faster land titling for indigenous communities

Source : The Phnom Penh Post / Wed, 20 July 2016 by Siem Reap province


NGO Forum director Tek Vannara yesterday called on the Ministry of Land Management to speed up collective land titling for indigenous communities.

“If they can speed up the land registration process, it would be good for indigenous people,” Vannara said at a national workshop in Siem Reap to discuss the issue.

He said there were 501 indigenous communities in Cambodia, of which just 11 had received collective land titles. “Fifty more communities will get it soon, but this is still a small number,” he said.

To illustrate the need for land titling, Vannara pointed to indigenous communities in five provinces – Preah Vihear, Mondulkiri, Rattanakiri, Stung Treng and Koh Kong – currently engaged in land disputes with developers.

Lout Sang, an ethnic Kouy villager from Preah Vihear, bemoaned the lack of progress in his community’s land titling application. “We face losing our land to an economic land concession,” Sang said. “We were better able to protect our lands before the government began registering it than we are now.”

Present for the workshop was Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Land Management Siek Vanna who agreed in his remarks that collective land titling was important for indigenous communities.

“Doing this will help to secure their lands. However, we need time and finance,” Vanna said, adding that the government had made considerable progress with land registration nationwide. “We have given out more than 4.6 million land titles as of the end of June,” he said.

Call for faster land titling for indigenous communities

Workers protest for reversal of union rep sacking

Source : The Phnom Penh Post / Wed, 20 July 2016 by

Workers from Kampong Speu protest at the Ministry of Labour yesterday, demanding an improvement to their working conditions. Pha Lina

More than 300 workers from an electronics factory in Kampong Speu brought a week-long protest to the doorstep of the Ministry of Labour yesterday, demanding the government force their employer to re-hire a dismissed unionist and improve working conditions.

Free Trade Union head Yung Leap said the workers’ priority was that the company, I Sound Cable Cambo Co Ltd, re-employ Tak Kim Chheng, a worker and the deputy chief of the FTU in the factory, who was sacked last month.

The protesters also sought compensation for workplace-related injuries, an easier process to secure annual leave and a three-month maternity leave payment in one lump sum, to help new mothers cover hospital bills.

Chheng said workers had frequently come to him with complaints before he was fired. “I was fired . . . because I always demand better working conditions for workers,” he said. “It is unfair.”

Oy Sinat, the chief of administration at the company, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Worker Khat Molin said she now feared for her job. “Now the employers ordered us to come back to work; if not, they will fire us,” she said.

A letter from the ministry to the protesters said it would find a solution for them today and asked them to return to work.

Ministry spokesman Hong Sour could not be reached for comment.

Workers protest for reversal of union rep sacking