UN, Licadho stopped from Oddar Meanchey dispute probe

Source: Phnom Penh Post

Anlong Veng district authorities in Oddar Meanchey province on Wednesday allegedly prevented a civil society organisation and United Nations officials from investigating a land dispute involving 122 families living in Anlong commune.

The villagers have accused the authorities of grabbing their land illegally. Officials, however, claim that these people came and cleared land owned by the state, according to In Kongchit, a coordinator at NGO Licadho.

Kongchit confirmed that on Wednesday, he and two UN officials were blocked by Anlong Veng authorities from meeting the people and investigating the situation. He said it was illegal as they were prohibiting a civil society organisation from helping people.
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Water supply to grow in Sihanoukville

Source: Khmer Times

Industry Minister Cham Prasidh said yesterday that residents in Preah Sihanouk province can expect a steady supply of water in the province within the next week.

The statement came after years of water supply problems in the province where residents faced water shortages.
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Monks to sit higher at events

Source : Khmer Times 

Mr Hun Sen wants more respect paid to monks.

From now on, organisers must arrange seating at events so that Buddhist monks sit higher than the people and the king, according to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Speaking at a Council of Ministers meeting on Friday, Mr Hun Sen called for greater respect of Buddhist monks, saying that they must sit at least 20 centimetres higher than the people at places and events attended by monks.

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Timber seized in raids in Ratanakkiri, Kratie

Source : The Phnom Penh Post

Military Police and Ministry of Environment officials at the site of a timber bust that took place on Saturday in the Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary.

Authorities in Ratanakkiri’s Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary seized a stockpile of first- and second-grade luxury timber on Saturday, while a truck hauling wood was intercepted by authorities in Kratie province in the early hours of yesterday morning. No arrests have been made in either case, authorities said yesterday.

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Company’s logging licence frozen in Preah Vihear

Source : The Phnom Penh Post

Vietnamese nationals who were arrested in Mondulkiri for illegal logging activities earlier this month were in possession of excavators bearing the logo of Duong Sruoch Group.

The Agriculture Ministry has frozen the Duong Sruoch Group’s licence to log in Preah Vihear province’s Choam Ksan district, after the company allegedly failed to honour its pledge to build a road for the locals.

According to District Governor Chea Kim Seng, the land was originally granted to the community as a social land concession in order to build a new village with a road leading to it. Local authorities did not have the ability to clear the land, so it was subcontracted to the company, along with the building of the road.

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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.