Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday said Cambodia has “eliminated” illegal logging and the corrupt practices enabling it.
In 1999 and 2000, “corruption and illegal activities in the forestry sector were eliminated with the implementation of rigorous measures and the full support of [the army], the police [and] the authorities,” the premier told a meeting of Asean environment ministers in Phnom Penh.
The government has taken a “tough stance” and “established and strengthened a forest crime monitoring mechanism and sustainable forest concession management system,” Hun Sen said.
Patrick Lyng, chief technical adviser to the Forestry Department’s Forest Crimes Monitoring Unit, said that although he didn’t doubt the premier’s commitment, illegal logging is not eliminated.
“It’s not that we’re not making headway,” he said, “but we’re not there yet, and it’s something that’s going to take years.”
In January, Global Witness, which acts as an independent monitor of the government’s forest crimes project, issued a report stating massive official corruption was responsible for widespread illegal logging in Cambodia.
The report, which was released just before a donors meeting, sparked a furor, with Hun Sen complaining it should have been passed to the government before being released to the press.
Global Witness did not respond to questions about the premier’s comments by press time.