Report Slams Logging Corruption, Violence

Corruption in the logging in­dustry remains “prevalent” and is undermining government efforts to reform the industry, according to the UN’s latest report on the situation of human rights in Cam­bodia.

“Much of the illegal logging throughout the country is conducted by concessionaires and the military,” the report stated.

The government’s inability to fight illegal logging and generate revenues from legitimate logging were the primary reasons the In­terna­tional Monetary Fund pulled out of Cambodia in 1996. The IMF re­sumed loans to Cam­bo­dia after the government prom­ised to reform the logging in­dustry.

The report, submitted to the UN General Assembly in late July by special representative Peter Leuprecht and released this week, also said land disputes, the poor state of legal and prison systems and the trafficking of wo­men and children are continuing issues of concern.

Leuprecht’s report follows his third visit to Cambodia in June. He was appointed the UN’s special representative for human rights to Cambodia in August 2000, and also visited here in Nov­ember and February.

On the commune elections, Leuprecht wrote that he is seriously concerned that potential candidates have been targets of violence. He also wrote of a “lingering concern that the [National Election Committee] will not be suf­ficiently independent to ensure the conduct of free and fair elections.”

Leuprecht wrote “there is evidence that an increasing number of independent trade union members are being targeted and fired by their employees.” In some cases, factory management, government officials and political parties are intimidating trade unions, the report stated.

According to Leuprecht, land disputes have brought on widespread poverty and violence, which has “huge potential” to evolve into “new conflict and civil unrest.”

Leuprecht noted the “blatant use of fraud and intimidation” by government and military officials in one land dispute case in Rat­anakkiri province. In that case, about 900 indigenous hill tribe villagers were cheated out of 1,200 hectares of land through “fraudulent methods,” the report stated.

 

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