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19 Mar 2020

Global Witness

Cambodia: Global Witness calls on authorities to cease judicial harassment against four environmental defenders after they are freed

"Global Witness Calls for End to Judicial Harassment of Prize Winning Cambodian Activist Ouch Leng and Environmental Defenders Protecting Cambodia's Climate-Critical Prey Lang Forest", 16 March 2020

Global Witness welcomes the release from Police custody today of Goldman Prize winning forest protection activist Ouch Leng and three other environmental defenders and calls on the Cambodian authorities to drop all investigations into their activities.

“The release of Ouch Leng, Khem Soky, Srey Thei and Men Mat is a huge relief. But the fact that they remain under investigation as suspects maintains the threat against them and other environmental defenders,” said Man-Kwun Chan, Campaign Leader, … at Global Witness.

“The overall message is that Cambodian authorities are more interested in persecuting Cambodian activists working to safeguard their country’s most precious natural heritage than protecting and supporting their vital work. All judicial proceedings against Ouch Leng and his colleagues must be ended unconditionally and without delay.”

…The harassment of Ouch Leng and the Prey Lang Community Network comes less than a month after hundreds of community members, monks and environmental activists were prevented by masked and armed Ministry of Environment rangers from carrying out an annual tree-blessing ceremony in Prey Lang…

Think Biotech and its associated company Angkor Plywood were recently the subject of an official investigation after the Ministry of Environment received reports of illegal logging from the offices of the EU and USAID in Cambodia …

“The detention and investigation of Ouch Leng and his colleagues raises the question of why the Cambodian government is defending the interests of a firm that has faced credible accusations of illegal logging and whose director has a long association with forest destruction in Cambodia,” said Man-Kwun Chan…