Customs Officials Hold Illegal Logging Reports

Customs officials are refusing to allow 2,000 copies of a Global Witness report—which implicates several high-ranking officials in illegal logging—into Cam­bodia, a member of the organization said Thursday.

Mike Davis said officials at Phnom Penh International Air­port have held the reports, titled “Taking a Cut,” since February.

Davis said he did not know why the reports were not allowed through customs as it was originally published and widely distributed in November.

“The reports in question are just a number of backup copies,” he said. “This is disappointing be­cause it has the same goal as the Prime Minister’s decision to crack down on corruption in logging.”

He said several previous re­ports have been cleared by customs without problems.

The report examines illegal logging in Kompong Speu’s Aural Wildlife Sanctuary to illustrate the involvement of officials at all levels. Officials are named in the re­port, and a complicated web diagram is drawn showing their al­leged connections.

Global Witness, which was fired from its position as the government’s highly critical forestry monitor on Jan 28, 2003, sent a letter to Information Minister Khieu Kan­harith on May 11 asking for his in­ter­vention. But the minister de­nied the re­quest in a letter Thurs­day, saying the report “seriously accused government officials but did not get a response from them.”

The airport’s administrator, Khieu Sam An, said the reports will be released only with a letter from the customs department.


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