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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2003 > April
Press Statement
Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
April 25, 2003


Cambodia's Termination of Forest Monitoring by Global Witness

The United States deplores the actions taken by the Royal Government of Cambodia to terminate the work of Global Witness, a non-governmental organization that monitors environmental degradation worldwide, as an independent forest monitor.  The Cambodian Government has not lived up to its pledge to maintain continuous forestry monitoring by an independent internationally recognized forestry monitor.  We consider independent monitoring of forests a significant factor in future donor decisions and important for multilateral development bank support.

There must be a credible process through which information about forestry crimes in Cambodia can be accurately gathered, tracked and acted upon.  The Cambodian Government should reverse its position and move promptly to uphold its commitments to work with an independent, international forest monitor.

The Cambodian government in 1999 contracted with United Kingdom-based Global Witness as an independent monitor in its Forestry Crime Monitoring Program, established with international assistance.  Global Witness published a report on the rebound in illegal logging trade in Cambodia in early 2001 without consulting its government partner.  This, and advocacy by Global Witness in 2002 for greater public scrutiny of forest concession plans, led the government of Cambodia to question whether the group had strayed from its contracted monitoring role.     

Although the Cambodian government suspended all commercial logging at the end of 2001, the evidence indicates illegal logging proceeds unchecked, aided by a climate of corruption and impunity from the law.  The government's response to Global Witness's reports included bringing a defamation suit against the group, which it eventually dropped after appeals from the United States and other international donors.

Deforestation worldwide is occurring at an alarming rate.   According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, we are losing annually some 30 million acres of tropical forests.  Illegal logging is a leading cause of this phenomenon.

Released on April 25, 2003

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