A StungTreng man who has reported illegal logging and land-clearing has been threatened with a defamation suit and worse. There is officially no more illegal logging and the authorities are clamping down hard on anyone who says otherwise:
Man faces defamation suit amid land-clearing claims
Fri, 13 January 2017
An activist in Stung Treng province has been hauled before commune authorities, threatened with a defamation suit and allegedly warned he could be beaten to death for exposing land clearing in his native Thala Borivat district.
Uk Mao, 53, said he was interrogated for an hour on Sunday after leading local reporters on several occasions to an area of state and community forest in Sam Ang commune he says has been cleared for about four years by migrant farmers, with some of the land also sold off for between $150 and $200 per hectare.
“They said that I defamed them over the forest logging,” Mao, an ethnic Kuoy villager, said yesterday. “They said that I reported untrue information. I responded: ‘Why is it untrue? You must have never been to the forest then.’ I spoke the truth.”
Mao said news reports of the clearing had enraged local commune officials, particularly commune chief Nhien Phon, whose aggressive response led the activist to believe local authorities may be complicit in the forest’s destruction...
Thala Borivat District Governor Thong Srun dismissed the activist’s claims, which he said were “completely untrue” and amounted to defamation of public officials.
Under the Kingdom’s Criminal Code, citizens can defame both an individual and institution by “any allegation or charge made in bad faith” that injures a party’s honour or reputation. The maximum fine is about $2,500. A one- to six-day prison sentence is also prescribed for anyone convicted of insulting a public official.
“I have inspected [the site] myself, and there is no crime,” Srun said, before suggesting Mao could escape legal action if he shut up. “We will call for him once or twice, and if he does not listen, we will implement our procedures.”
Speaking yesterday, a journalist shown the site by Mao confirmed his account...
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/m ... ing-claims
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