At 11pm on Tuesday April 30th one of Global Witness' senior representatives in Cambodia was attacked outside the NGO's office in Phnom Penh by at least two, possibly three, masked-men armed with sticks. Nothing was said by the assailants who fled the scene after the attack.
"Fortunately the injuries sustained were not too severe but this is an extremely serious incident" said Jon Buckrell of Global Witness.
Since becoming the Independent Monitor on the Forest Crime Monitoring and Reporting Project, in December 1999, Global Witness staff have been threatened by concession security staff in the field, via email and even received veiled threats from government officials who are meant to be working with Global Witness to stop illegal logging.
There was no indication that this was a robbery as all valuables were left untouched. Global Witness believes that the attack was a warning in the light of recent investigations which have uncovered evidence that logging companies, such as GAT International, are continuing to log despite the January 1st 2002 logging ban. An email from a Chinese internet server was received the following day bearing the simple message “QUIT”.
"This is part of a pattern of intimidation designed to stop us securing evidence of illegal logging by the concessionaires; the more information we uncover the more serious the threats become" said Buckrell.
In the light of the seriousness of this incident Global Witness is currently reviewing its position as the Independent Monitor.
"In the first instance we will be seeking assurances from the very highest levels of government that this incident will be thoroughly investigated and the future safety of our staff assured." said Jon Buckrell.
Press Release / May 3, 2002