The Cambodian government has ordered an investigation into a Global Witness report which alleges high-ranking government officials and relatives of Prime Minister Hun Sen are involved in illegal logging syndicates, local media said on Thursday.
Information Minister and Government Spokesman Khieu Kanharith said that the probe will be carried out by forestry watchdog Societe Generale de Surveillance (SGS), reported French language newspaper the Cambodge Soir.
"I think that SGS, which is a partner of the Cambodian government, should organize clear reports regarding the deforestation in Cambodia and send them to the government," he said, adding that the Global Witness report has ruined Cambodia's international reputation.
Bob Tennent, a former forestry project manager at SGS, said the organization has received the order but not any further information.
SGS was contracted as an independent forestry monitor by the Cambodian government in early 2005, following the closure of the Global Witness office and its officials barred from entry to the country.
But SGS faced allegations from international observers and the opposition that it was shirking its observer duties and had been given a weak mandate by backer the World Bank, which in late 2005 withdrew its forest concession management and control projects, effectively leaving the nation with no independent watchdog, said the Cambodge Soir.
Global Witness last week released Cambodia's Family Trees, a 95- page document claiming Cambodia's forests are being systematically ransacked of their natural resources by a highly organized family of upper-level officials and relatives of the premier.
The report was subsequently banned by the government, with Khieu Kanharith asking Ministry of Interior to locate and remove all copies of it from the nation.