Forest Monitor Has New Title, Same Mission Forest Monitor

Mike Davis of the Global Wit­ness Cambodia Campaign said Tuesday the forestry watchdog’s continued efforts in the country “won’t necessarily fall under the heading of monitoring.”

But, he added, “methods will be consistent with what we’ve been doing over the past three years.”

London-based Global Witness issued a statement last week saying that despite the demise of its role as the government’s independent forest monitor, it will continue to investigate illegal logging, lobby for sustainable practices and issue forestry reports.

The three-year contract for the monitoring operation expires at the end of this month, Davis said. He said the NGO will then con­tinue its work under the title of the Global Witness Cambodia Campaign, a project that’s been in place since the mid-1990s.

Davis described the independent monitor role as a “stand- alone” project with terms drawn up by the donors who pushed the government to take on an independent monitor. Those terms happened to fall in line with Glo­bal Witness’ agenda, he added.

Davis declined to comment on another recent Global Witness development—the imminent departure of Eva Galabru. Gala­bru served as the local Global Witness director since 2001.

When many other activists in the forestry sector declined to speak publicly on the government’s widely criticized treatment of timber resources, Galabru remained outspoken.

Her assessments of the logging industry and the government’s management of it regularly drew the ire of officials and others. In April 2002, she was beaten up near her office. Her attackers left a note that read “Quit.” She stayed.

The government has an­nounced that it fired Global Wit­ness from the position of monitor as of April 22, but Davis said the group’s activities have continued.

He said he is unsure how Glo­bal Witness will work with the government in the future. But he ex­pressed confidence that the watchdog group will be able to continue working as it has for years now.

He also said that working outside the government would not likely hinder the group’s access to logging operations, as it had never been unlimited to begin with.

 

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