Deforestation Taskforce Files Complaint Against Five Companies

Source: Khmer Times/ Wednesday, 09 March 2016 by May Titthara

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The National Anti-Deforestation Committee (NADC) filed complaints to provincial courts against five companies that obtained economic land concessions (ELCs) from the government after discovering irregularities in the companies’ timber stocks after a three-day inspection early this week.

Eng Hy, a spokesman for the National Gendarmerie and the NADC, said the committee finished inspecting the five companies – Uni-Green, Master Kesan, Dai Than, Khmer Angkor Agriculture and Binh Phoeuc – yesterday after starting on Monday.

“We already built up files concerning those five companies. The files were also sent and arrived in the hands of the provincial prosecutors who will summon the involved people to clarify in court. The next step is up to the prosecutors,” he said.

Mr. Hy said the committee’s president had ordered private trucks to transport the wood to secure sections of the companies’ land for inspections and employed security guards to watch over and protect the stocks. The last 100 cubic meters of timber were allegedly destroyed by a forest fire on the Chinese-owned Uni-Green Company rubber plantation in Mondulkiri province’s Kor Nhek district last week.

Ya Narin, president of the Mondulkiri Provincial Court, said the Uni-Green fire case was still in the prosecution phase and he was unsure how the prosecutor was dealing with it.

“It is in the hands of the prosecutor. I don’t know what kind of questioning or charges he is considering,” he said.

Mondulkiri Provincial prosecutor Long Hoc Meng could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Sok Ratha, coordinator for rights group Adhoc in Mondulkiri province, said residents of Kor Nhek district knew about the business activities of the investigated companies and applauded the security measures taken by the committee.

However, he added that the committee should publicize the results of the inspections as well as naming the business owners and people involved.

“Since the creation of the committee, the timber business in Mondulkiri province has calmed down. But now, the company’s wood is being burned,” Mr. Ratha said.

Mr. Hy added that the committee will file a report to the government on March 20 and recommend steps it should take in the event that irregular stocks are found to be illegal.

According to a report made by NGO Protecting Forest, the main loss of forest in Cambodia was due to a number of private companies that used their ELC licenses to destroy forests, including those in protected areas.

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