Forest activists demand right to patrol freely

Source: Khmer Times

An NGO has lashed out against the Environment Ministry’s comments over forest patrols after some activists were banned from the Prey Lang area. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The National Independent Cambodian Environment Team has asked the Ministry of Environment to consider allowing people to patrol protected natural areas without prior authorisation.

NICET insisted that young people, communities and civil society organisations should have the right to protect natural resources without permission from ministries or institutions.

The request came after Environment Minister Say Samal said on November 22 that environmental and forestry activists should request permission from provincial authorities before going on patrol in protected areas to maintain safety.

NICET issued an open letter criticising the minister’s actions, saying it is meant to deprive citizens from their rights indirectly.

The organisation also recalled Prime Minister Hun Sen’s call to the general public, youth and communities to participate in the protection of natural resources.

NICET member Heng Sros said the constitution states that Khmer citizens of either sex have the right to participate actively in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the nation.

Mr Sros said requesting authorisations before patrolling forested areas seem to provide a signal to the perpetrators to flee the area.

“This seems to protect the perpetrators rather than those who protect the natural resources,” he said. “Also, preparing the documents for the request is costly for the community. Where can they get the money for this?”

NICET said that according to their observations in protected areas, Cambodia’s forests have been cut down massively, with wood traders and tycoons cutting down and exporting timber outside the country.

Ministry of Environment spokesman Sao Sopheap said the government has given people the right to patrol and protect in natural protected communities without prior permission.

For natural resource protected areas, however, the ministry asks for collaboration with environment officials for patrolling and conservation.

“The government welcomes all to participate in the process of protecting and preserving,” Mr Sopheap said. “However, citizens are not police officers, so they cannot implement legal action by themselves, which is why they must cooperate with authorities.”

On November 26, a group of ten environmental and forest activists were banned by Preah Vihear province environmental officers from entering the Prey Lang protected area to put up anti-logging banners.



Two endangered ducks rescued

Source: Khmer Times

The two ducks were found exhausted and are now recovering a wildlife conservation centre in Siem Reap province. Supplied

The Environment Ministry and Wildlife Conservation Society officials rescued two white-winged ducks from Preah Vihear’s Kunlen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary after they were found exhausted and unable to fly.

The WCS said yesterday that the birds were sent to the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity in Siem Reap province for care until they can survive in the wild.

Rours Vann, wildlife research team leader for the ministry and WCS, said he got the information from local villagers before dispatching a team to rescue the birds.

“Ensuring local communities have awareness of conservation issues is vital to encourage them to report wildlife information,” he said,

“If they do not understand the importance of wildlife conservation, they might have eaten or sold these ducks.”

The species is listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List as Globally Endangered. It is on the decline due to disturbances along key stretches of habitat and illegal poaching.

The global population is estimated at 250 to 1,000, and little is known about their numbers in Cambodia.

Project manager of the Siem Reap centre Michael Meyerhoff said that the birds arrived safely and a working group is evaluating and monitoring their health condition.


Clean water shortage at Sesan

Source: Phnom Penh Post

One of the four ponds used by Kbal Romeas villagers to collect their daily water in Stung Treng province. Photo supplied

Even as floodwaters pour into their villages and encroach upon their resettlement sites, villagers displaced by the controversial Lower Sesan II Dam in Stung Treng province say they are now facing shortages of potable water.

Community representative Lat Vibol said the 252 villagers from the Kbal Romeas indigenous community, which refused to relocate to government resettlement sites from their land in the flood zone of the Hydro Power Lower Sesan 2 Co Ltd project – partly owned by tycoon Kith Meng – are running out of drinking water after two of the four natural ponds in their informal resettlement area dried up last month.
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Koh Kong families protest tycoon’s land concession

Source:  Khmer Times

The company says it is not clearing land that belongs to families that have not accepted compensation. Supplied

More than 30 families living in Koh Kong province’s Kiri Sakor district yesterday protested against the work of a Special Economic Zone company owned by tycoon Ly Yong Phat.

The company, which has an economic land concession in Prek Khsach and Samrong Takeo communes, is clearing forest for development in the area.
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Garment factory fined after pollution claims

Source: Phnom Penh Post

A local waterway that residents say was polluted by untreated runoff from a garment factory in Takeo’s Bati district. Daphne Chen

The Ministry of Environment has fined a Chinese garment factory in Takeo province $7,500 after villagers complained the factory was polluting nearby streams with untreated waste.

Klaing Sambath Village Chief Ouch Monh said sewage from Wintai Sock Manufacture Ltd, in Bati district’s Putsar commune, had been flowing into local streams since last year and was particularly bad during heavy rains.
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Two men arrested, freed over Cardamom logging

Source: Phnom Penh Post

Oum Ngat Say (left) and Sou Chan (right) were arrested on Friday for allegedly logging in a protected area of Pursat province. Photo supplied

Two men were arrested Friday by Pursat Provincial Military Police for allegedly logging in a protected area, only to be released yesterday at the request of the provincial Military Police commander, officials said yesterday.
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Hun Sen: rights organisation CCHR will not be shut down

Source: Phnom Penh Post

Staffers at the Cambodian Center for Human Rights hold up signs reading ‘Save Press Freedom Cambodia’ in solidarity with the Cambodia Daily newspaper, which closed earlier this year following a tax dispute. Photo supplied

In an unexpected turn, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced on Saturday that the outspoken Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) will not be shut down, despite accusing the local NGO last week of serving foreign interests.
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