Country Director To Part With Global Witness

Global Witness issued a statement Wednesday asserting its ongoing commitment to eliminating illegal logging and shaping up the forestry sector, but country director Eva Galabru said Thurs­day that after July 31 she will no longer be a part of the NGO.

Since 1999, London-based Glo­bal Witness had served as the government’s official independent forest monitor at the behest of international donors who decried the devastation of Cam­bodia’s commercial timber. After accusing the watchdog of attempting to embarrass the government with exaggerated reports, Prime Min­is­ter Hun Sen severed relations with the group in April.

Galabru said she had been told by Global Witness that the termination of the monitoring project was the reason for her departure. She referred further questions to Global Witness official Mike Davis, who could not be reached for comment.

The Global Witness statement said the group will “continue to investigate and expose forest crimes and instances of corruption and bad practice in the forest sector; evidence will be made available to the relevant government authorities, the new monitor and to the public.

“Global Witness intends to re­tain its in-country operations formerly dedicated to Independent Monitoring and these will be integrated into the Global Witness Cam­­bodia Forests Campaign, which has been running since 1995.”

Meanwhile, Agriculture Min­is­ter Chan Sarun echoed Hun Sen on Apsara TV Tuesday, pinning blame for the pillaging of the na­tion’s forests on Funcinpec officials during Prince Norodom Ran­a­riddh’s stint as first prime minister. He named the prince; Funcin­pec’s deputy secretary-general, Nhiek Bun Chhay; and then-fi­nance minister Sam Rainsy as culprits.

Noranarith Anandayath, senior adviser to Prince Ranariddh, dismissed such accusations as “totally false,” and pointed out that Prince Ranariddh was in power for less than three years while the CPP has dominated Cambodian politics for more than 20 years.

“Just read the Global Witness [reports],” he said.


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