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Global Witness Barred from Cambodia

Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Secretary Long Visalo alleged that the ministry's high officials are reluctant to specify the exact reasons for denying the London-based environmental Global Witness Organization's (GWO) entry into Cambodia.

Mr. Long Visalo told reporters Friday about the statement after the weekly cabinet meeting. He also said that GWO has no contract with the government. The contract ended in April 2003 after it reported illegal loggings authorized by high government officials and Prime Minister Hun Sen’s military officials.

The Cambodian government said that those reports are not accurate. GWO prevents illegal loggings and preserves natural resources in Cambodia. A GWO program council member, Mr. Marcos Parker, was put back on the plane bound for Thailand on July 18 when he arrived at the Pochenton airport. He is among four officials barred from entering Cambodia.

Mr. Long Visalo signed the announcement to bar these four officials from entering Camobdia. Diplomats in Cambodia appealed to the government to reconsider the decision.

A European Union diplomat said diplomatic channels are working to solve the problem. England and the U.S. sent letters separately to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Minister, Hor Nam Hong, to reassess the situation.

GWO’s representative in Cambodia, Mr. Mike David cannot be reached for comments. In his statement released last week, GWO’s high official, Mr. Jones Bookfield said that this barring would not affect his organization from monitoring the illegal loggings in Cambodia.

Civil society officials express regret for the government's action. US Senate appropriation committee allows USAID to provide funds to GWO to monitor illegal loggings in Cambodia.