Saturday, 16.6.2007: US Ambassador Calls for Government Officials to Negotiate with Global Witness in Order to Find the Facts

Posted on 17 June 2007. Filed under: Week 512 |

The Mirror, Vol. 11, No. 512

“The US Ambassador in Phnom Penh calls for the Cambodian Government to cooperate with Global Witness to investigate forest crimes at the Prey Lang area and in the Tum Ring Commune, Sandan District, Kompong Thom. Some opinions want Mr. Hun Sen to take Global Witness to a British court, in order to protect the reputation of the nation and to demand that Global Witness compensate the Khmer leaders, which this organization calls to be involved in stealing from the nation, or a group of thieves who steal from the nation.

“Mr. Joseph A. Mussomeli, the US Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia, told Radio Free Asia on Thursday that the illegal logging in Kompong Thom is a serious problem, among other crimes. However, Mr. Mussomeli did not say that the Global Witness report is true or not. He asked for cooperation to suppress illegal logging which exists in Cambodia these days.

“The Ambassador said, ‘I am concerned about illegal logging, corruption, and land grabbing, which are serious problems against which the Cambodian Government should take action…. I believe that it would be better if the Cambodian Government and Global Witness would discuss with each other.’

“On 8 June 2007, Mr. Simon Taylor, the director of Global Witness, said he is ready to cooperate with the Cambodian Government to investigate illegal logging and corruption which his organization revealed in its report earlier this month. But Mr. Khieu Kanharith, the Minister of Information and the government’s spokesperson, said that Global Witness first hit the government, then later asked for cooperation.

“Mr. Taylor said in his statement which was released last Friday, ‘We are ready to support the investigation in whichever way it will be conducted.’

“This statement was made, after the government had announced, not very publicly on 14 June 2007, that it had created a committee to study the report. Before it announced the creation of the committee, the government issued a press release requesting the Ministry of Interior to prevent the distribution of the report, saying that the Global Witness report attacks leaders and senior government officials.

“Up to now, the government has not shown a position of cooperation with Global Witness in order to prevent logging in Cambodia, but it took action by prohibiting Sralanh Khmer from publishing the content of the report, which has more than 100 pages.

“Mr. Taylor said, ‘We must not forget that everything we include in the report relates to very serious crimes.’ Concerning the crimes, the government should open ways for the court and the police to conduct a complete investigation, and any related intervention should be conducted effectively.’ Mr. Taylor welcomed the creation of this committee by the government.

“However, observers, who seem to know well the attitude of the head of government, affirmed that the measures of the government of creating this committee is just a trick to deceive the donors before the [Consultative Group] meeting in the third week of this month, in order to avoid that the donors put pressure on the government leaders who are accused of involvement in forest crimes.

“The Kyodo new agency reported that Mr. Taylor sent an e-mail message from London, England, affirming, ‘Our Global Witness report is always written with the will to coordinate with any subsequent investigation and punishment, in this case of relatives of dignitaries and senior officials, as well as of generals who are guilty of involvement in organized forest crimes. If the government guarantees that an investigation will be conducted this time, we greatly support and admire this.’

“The report of more than 100 pages entitled “Cambodia’s Family Trees – Illegal logging and the stripping of public assets by Cambodia’s elite” makes accusations of illegal logging and of taking public property, to share it among some dignitaries.

“An official, who believes that the Global Witness report is probably completely true, said that it is not likely that Mr. Hun Sen wants that Global Witness cooperates in an investigation, as he had also refused to meet with an United Nations official. Mr. Hun Neng, Mr. Hun Sen’s brother, had warned that if he would meet Global Witness staff members, he would hit them on the head so that they bleed, which is a threat to commit violence; it is not likely that Global Witness will participate in the investigation.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen, Mr. Chan Sarun, the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Ty Sikun, Director-General of the Forestry Administration, Madame Bun Rany, Mr. Hun Sen’s wife, Mr. Sao Sokha, the Commander of the National Military Police, Mr. Seng Kok Heang nicknamed Ta 95 [Grandfather 95], Ms. Sen Keang, the former wife of Mr. Dy Chouch called Hun Chouch, and the head of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s bodyguards, Lieutenant General Hing Bun Hieng, whose pictures Global Witness placed on the ‘family tree,’ should go to see the sites of forest crimes, which Global Witness mentions in their accusation, to see whether illegal logging really exists. If they do not find these illegal logging sites, they may take Global Witness to a British court, in order to provide justice to the Khmer nation, especially to demand that this environment protection organization compensate the nine well-known dignitaries mentioned in the report.

“But Mr. Hun Sen and the involved officials do not take legal action; instead they use dictatorial means not to allow the distribution of the Global Witness report, and they prohibited that Sralanh Khmer could publish the report.

“Mr. Joseph A. Mussomeli, the US Ambassador, called on the government to cooperate with Global Witness to prevent illegal logging in Cambodia. This request of the US Ambassador will probably not be followed by the Khmer government, because – according to the report – it is not even necessary to conduct an investigation, because the names of those who committed the crimes, their activities, and the sites, are given in detail.” Sralanh Khmer, Vol.3, #428, 16.6.2007

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 16 June 2007

Chakraval, Vol.15, #2689, 16.6.2007

  • The Khmer Ambassador to Switzerland [Chheang Von], Reacted against Yash Ghai’s Report, Which Calls the Preah Monivong Bridge the “Vietnamese Bridge” [which leads to the road to Vietnam]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.6, #1367, 16.6.2007

  • Samdech Hun Sen Wants Aid and Investments from Japan and China
  • The Thai Ambassador Says Visa Regulations for Khmer Citizens Will not Be Made More Strict
  • 16-Year-Old Boy Rapes 9-Year-Old Girl; He Is Arrested by Police [Pailin]
  • Thailand Plans to Deploy 13,000 Troops to Resist Demonstrators [against the government]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.40, #6067, 16-17.6.2007

  • In 2007, More Than 7,000 Cases of Dengue Fever Occurred, and More than 100 Children Died [countrywide – according to Mam Bunheng, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Health]
  • World Food Program Receives Rice Aid form Germany to Provide Food at Schools [in Cambodia]
  • Three Battalions of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Train, Preparing to Work for the UN

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.14, #3186, 16-17.6.2007

  • Illegal Logging at Prey Lang Area and in Tum Ring in Sandan, Kompong Thom, Continues Every Day

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.15, #4312, 16.6.2007

  • Battambang Court Holds Hearing of Case of Three Generals and Their Partisans [accused of armed robberies]
  • Former Miss Belgium [Tatjana Silva] Calls for Cambodian Citizens to Participate in Reduction of Traffic Accidents [she said that traffic in Cambodia is worse than in any other country she has ever visited]
  • Thai Rebels Kill Seven Soldiers and Continue to Burn Down School Buildings [in southern Thailand]

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.14, #3063, 16.6.2007

  • SGS [Société générale de surveillance] Calls Itself a Dog That Does Not Bark, and Its Calls Global Witness a Dog That Barks to Get Attention for Itself , Related to Logging
  • If There Were no Corruption, Employees Could Increase Workers’ Salaries Up to More than $100 [according to Monh Saphan, parliamentarian from Funcinpec, at a World Vision forum]

Go to last week’s editorial

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