PHNOM PENH (The Phnom Penh/Asia News Network): The National Committee for the Prevention and Crackdown of Natural Resource Crimes, led by military police commander Sao Sokha warned that they will destroy all vehicles used to transport illegal timbers once they are seized. An immediate investigation was also called for, following reports of the resumption of natural forest crimes in several provinces.
The committee’s Dec 2 press statement said that recently, media and social media accounts had published or shared information alleging that forest crimes were taking place in Preah Vihear, Kampong Thom, Kratie, Mondulkiri and other provinces.
“Some of the news that was sent to us was true and we investigated it accordingly, but some of the claims were unfounded,” it said.
“Through the military police investigations, it was determined that some outlets had published old pictures and attached the names of individuals or companies. This has caused some confusion, and is also a form of defamation, especially if they are operating a legal business,” it added.
In Preah Vihear province, the national military police investigated the locations where crimes had reportedly occurred. They met with village and commune chiefs, and forestry administration officials. No evidence of the alleged crimes was discovered.
“From the date of this statement, all means used to transport timber without authorisation will destroyed in order to wipe out forest crimes and protect the Kingdom’s forests,” the statement said.
Two vans transporting 10cu m of illegally milled timber were seized on December 1 in Kpob commune, in Kampong Cham province’s Stung Trang district. According to local media, the timber and vehicles were being held, pending further legal action.