Cambodia: Five environmental activists to face court for being accused of putting signs up in a protected area.Event
- Initial Date
- Feb 7, 2021
- Event Description
The winner of the 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize Ouch Leng and four other forestry activists were sent to Kratie Provincial Court yesterday after being accused of putting signs up in a protected area.
On Friday, Leng, Heng Sros, Man Muth, Heng Run and Phong Cheang hung up signs in Prey Lang forest saying: “Please help preserve our ancestral heritage forest”.
Human rights Adhoc senior investigator Soeng Sen Karuna said yesterday if activists enter the forest just to monitor, gather information and hang signs to protect against deforestation, the authorities should not arrest them.
“Environment officials should take action on bad people who go into the forest, but not the activists who just want to prevent deforestation,” he claimed.
“According to the forest law, it will be implemented on people who commit crimes such as the destruction of natural resources, deforestation or killing wildlife,” he said.
Sen Karuna added that the leadership should intervene in this matter and not allow officials to take such action against activists who assist the government in preventing and protecting natural resources in Cambodia.
“Arresting an activist who uses their rights to protect the forests is not right and could be criticised by the international community, plus it is an opportunity for bad people to continue to destroy the forest,” he said.
Choub Sreynuth, wife of Sros, said she has asked the authorities to release her husband and the other activists.
“The activists only participated in protecting natural resources, but they have been arrested like they are perpetrators,” she said.
The provincial Environment Department director Duong Chhay Savuth said that according to Article 11 of the protected area law, all entry and exit to protected areas must be authorised.
He said the five activists went into Prey Lang wildlife sanctuary without asking permission. “The officials detained them for questioning for 48 hours on Friday, and sent them to the provincial court yesterday,” Savuth said.
Prosecutor Keo Socheat said yesterday the five activists are being detained and will be questioned further today.
Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said yesterday, park rangers are judicial police officers who have the duty to protect and conserve natural resources in accordance with the law in preventing and suppressing illegal activities that take place in the protected area. No matter who the person is, if the rangers find that the act is not in accordance with the law, they must comply with the law.
“The suspects’ response stated that they were operating in the protected area to take pictures to seek financial support from various donors. This clearly shows the malicious intentions of some groups who take refuge under the label of environmentalists and forest activists who use bad methods to benefit their party and serve a corrupt agenda,” Pheaktra said.
He said that the Ministry of Environment calls on and encourages some donors to provide support to associations and NGOs that are properly registered and encourage law-abiding associations and NGOs.
Pheaktra added that the ministry welcomes the participation of associations and NGOs in the protection and conservation of natural resources, but that they must enter through the legal channels.
Ouch Leng, the working group leader of the Cambodian Human Rights Task Force was selected as the winner of The Goldman Environmental Prize 2016, presented by the Gold Fund for Global Environmental Heroes 2016 in San Francisco, United States.
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- (Arbitrary) Arrest and Detention
- Judicial Harassment
- Rights Concerned
- Right to liberty and security
- Right to Protest
- Environmental rights defender
- Monitoring Status
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On February 7, 2020, Five environmental HRDs were arrested by the police as they put up sign to call on the preservation of the forest in Kratie Province, Cambodia.