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Government Assails Global Witness ‘Plot’

The Cambodian government accused resources monitor Global Witness of plotting to discredit the government Monday, following reports the US is considering a ban on corrupt officials.

In a release issued Monday, the Cambodian Embassy in London said the UK-based organization deliberately sought “to discredit and plot against the government.”

The statement follows a potnetial US visa ban on corrupt officials in foreign countries who benefit from the exploitation of natural resources.

US Congress has recommended the State Department specifically consider a 2007 Global Witness report linking more than a dozen top officials and businessmen to Prime Minister Hun Sen and his family.

The Cambodian Embassy Monday called for international regulations and guidelines for Global Witness, calling its leadership “uneducated.”

Cambodia has seen “remarkable progress,” the embassy said, citing a number of high-level visits from US and European officials.

Global Witness Director Simon Taylor told VOA Khmer Wednesday the embassy statement “indicates how far Cambodia needs to come to understand what this issue is about.”

“Annually they promise, annually they fail to deliver, and annually the donors fail to respond to the problem adequately,” he said.

In the past decade, corrupt Cambodian elites “have presided over the destruction of the forestry estate,” Taylor said.

Meanwhile, Cambodians “absolutely desperate to get it right” are “thwarted by the people around them.”

With offshore oil exploration on the horizon, “crunch time is coming” to address corruption, he said.