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Global Witness Awarded for Investigations

The international monitoring group Global Witness was given a development award in Washington Thursday, for its investigations into resource exploitation in countries like Angola, Burma, Cambodia and Liberia.

Global Witness received the Commitment to Development Ideas in Action Award, given each year by Foreign Policy magazine and the Center for Global Development.

Global Witness was selected because its founders “managed to change the world in fantastic ways,” Moises Naim, editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy magazine, said at the awards ceremony.

Global Witness started with three individuals seeking to end the timber trade along the Thai-Cambodia border in the early 1990s, which was funding both the Khmer Rouge and the government as they fought, said Patrick Alley, a founder of the group.

Corrupt Cambodian officials continue to reap benefits from an illegal timber trade, Global Witness says.

In its 2007 report, “Cambodia’s Family Trees,” the group singled out more than a dozen officials with close ties to Prime Minister Hun Sen who profit from the trade.

Global Witness is now working with the US government to have those officials added to a State Department ban from US entry, said Global Witness founding director Simon Taylor.