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Environmental Group Prepares Lawsuit Over Alleged Sand Export Graft

  • Men Kimseng
  • VOA Khmer

Cambodian workers use horse drawn carts for carrying sand to be used for construction through village of Samor Kroam, in Takeo province southwest of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian workers use horse drawn carts for carrying sand to be used for construction through village of Samor Kroam, in Takeo province southwest of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Mother Nature analysis of U.N. trade figures it said showed Cambodia had under-reported its sand exports to Singapore by some 70 million tons between 2007 and 2015.

Documents obtained by local environmental campaign group Mother Nature reportedly show that Cambodia exported more than 100,000 tons of sand to India between 2013 and 2015, a period when the country recorded no exports to the sub-continent.

The development came on the heels of a Mother Nature analysis of U.N. trade figures it said showed Cambodia had under-reported its sand exports to Singapore by some 70 million tons between 2007 and 2015.

The group is now preparing a lawsuit based on its findings.

“The documents we have in hand show that the source of the sand is from Cambodia,” Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson, a founder off Mother Nature, told VOA Khmer. “We bought documents from Singapore and it doesn’t show any Cambodian sand being re-exported in 2014 and 2015.”

The Spanish environmentalist, who has been banned from entering Cambodia since 2015, said he is working with a law firm in Singapore to possibly file a complaint against companies and government institutions there for importing sand extracted illegally from Cambodia.

“For now there are two possibilities,” he said. “The first one is to file a complaint against companies or government institutions that are involved in importing sand from Cambodia illegally.

“The second one is to file a complaint because this sand dredging has caused severe environmental impacts on Cambodia, especially Koh Kong residents have been impacted severely on their livelihoods.”

Government spokesman Dith Tina told a parliamentary committee after the allegations were raised that the drastic differences in the figures were due to the different reporting requirements of the two states.

“We don’t know what recording system Singapore was using and if you asked us to say whether Singapore or the UN is wrong, we don’t provide such judgment,” he said. “It should be noted that each system is designed to serve its own purpose and with different principles.”

Eugene Thuraisingam LLP said on its Facebook page on Tuesday that it has been instructed by Mother Nature Cambodia to provide advice in relation to the alleged illegal sand-dredging activities in Koh Kong.

“The dredging activities which have been taking place since 2008, have led to severe environmental destruction and the loss of livelihoods of local communities,” wrote the law firm.

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