Senate Intervention: Too little too late?

Dec. 1, 2010. The Phnom Penh Post today reported the Senate’s Commission on Human Rights Reception of Complaints and Investigation has sent a letter urging Kep Chuktema, the governor of Phnom Penh, to act to resolve the ongoing dispute between residents of the Boeung Kak lake area and Shukaku, which is headed by Cambodian People’s Party Senator Lao Meng Khin. You can read the article here.

But is it too little too late? And how much power does the committee and/or Kep Chuktema have against Lao Meng Khin who together with his wife Yeay Phu run Pheapimex? Indeed, a report entitled “Business and Human Rights in Cambodia: Constructing Three Pillars” released by the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights today, had this to say about Pheapimex:

“3.1.1. BUSINESS-LED ILLEGAL FORCED EVICTIONS
3.1.1.1. Pheapimex Co. Ltd.

In 2000, Pheapimex was granted two agro-industry concessions totaling over 300,000 hectares in Kampong Chhnang. Since the 1990s, Pheapimex – owned by Cambodia People’s Party Senator Okhna Lao Meng Khin and his wife, who are famously close to Prime Minister Hun Sen – has developed an infamous reputation as a logging concessionaire:

“In a forest industry dominated by illegal logging and conflict with local people, Pheapimex held the dubious distinction of being notorious amongst the concessionaires for its ruthlessness and the level of destruction inflicted upon its concession areas. It has enjoyed a long relationship with the Cambodian armed forces, and has used members of the military to provide security and exert control over its forest concessions.”

The areas covered by the 2000 concessions are heavily forested and were therefore deemed ideal for developing high pulp-yield acacia and eucalyptus plantations and for building a paper mill. The eviction affected ‘[h]undreds of villages in about 50 communes where families rely on the forest for gathering non-timber products and grazing cattle.’ Logging concessions were in theory suspended in 2002, yet allegedly deforestation continues unabated.”

You can access the full report here.

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