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Environmental, Campaign & Website News > Cambodia passes long-awaited law to curb logging

Cambodia passes long-awaited law to curb logging

Date : 31st July 2002, Source : Associated Press

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- Cambodia's parliament on Tuesday set a penalty for illegal logging of up to 10 years in jail, but critics expressed doubts that it will save the country's forests from further destruction.

Violaters of the new anti-logging legislation can also be fined up to 100 million riel (dlrs 25,600).

The law makes it a crime to cut trees outside concession areas, in national parks, in wildlife sanctuaries or other designated areas. It also requires newlyweds to plant two trees before getting their marriage certificate.

It is "an important instrument for guaranteeing sustainability of valuable natural heritage," Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun said.

The law was passed in the decision-making 122-seat National Assembly by an 83-12 vote. The remaining 27 members were absent. The law will now have to be approved by the Senate, which is considered a formality.

The 12 lawmakers who voted against the law belong to the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, which warned that it will be ineffective and accused the government of giving dubious logging concessions to cronies and bribe-payers.

"Instead of canceling all the bad, very doubtful contracts, on the contrary the law gives the government (power) to renew any contract with full discretion," party leader Sam Rainsy said.

According to government's statistics, forest cover in Cambodia has been reduced from 74 percent before 1970 to 58 percent now.

Much of the deforestation has been attributed to the civil war during the last three decades when warring factions felled timber to finance the fighting.

But in recent years, corruption and logging have emerged as major contributors, provoking heavy criticism by international donors who fund nearly half of the government's expenditure.

The donors pledged dlrs 635 million aid to Cambodia in June for the next year but demanded sterner measures from the government to curb corruption, reform the judiciary and safeguard the environment.

Eva Galabru, a coordinator of the London-based environmental group, Global Witness, criticized the new law for not being adequately transparent or having "checks and balances."

Document last updated on Wednesday 01 August 2018

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