Press Release / July 14, 2011

Swift, meaningful action must follow review of Cambodian sand dredging trade – Global Witness

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's promise to review the environmental impacts of sand-dredging on the country's coastline is a welcome development, said Global Witness today. It is now critical that the review brings in effective regulation of dredging operations in order to protect the country’s valuable ecosystems and coastal communities, and that corruption associated with the trade is meaningfully addressed.

Global Witness's May 2010 report, Shifting Sand, showcased the devastating social and environmental impact of a dredging boom fuelled by Singapore's massive demand for sand. The report exposed how two prominent Cambodian Senators, Mong Reththy and Ly Yong Phat, had monopolised this trade despite a supposed government ban on dredging. Global Witness found no evidence of funds from the trade reaching state coffers

"Sadly since our report, the ransacking of Cambodia's coastlines has continued apace at the expense of the communities that depend on them,” said George Boden, campaigner at Global Witness.  

"So if the government is serious about clamping down on the environmental problems caused by the dredging trade, then this is excellent news. However, given the long history of broken promises in Cambodia's resource sector, we will be watching closely to ensure that new measures are comprehensive, and that the companies concerned are made to comply," continued Boden

In order to properly tackle the environmental damage caused by dredging and the corruption associated with it, Global Witness recommends that the Government’s review includes environmental impact assessments, the introduction of international best practices to the sand trade and measures to tackle graft. Without such measures, the industry will remain open to abuse by vested interests.   

Contacts: George Boden, +44(0)7808 767 134, Oliver Courtney +44(0)7815 731889


  • According to reports in the Phnom Penh Post, in his statement Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered the Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology, Lim Kean Hor, to inspect dredging operations in Koh Kong province. Eyewitness reports also suggested that Ly Yong Phat has started scaling back his massive dredging operation on the Tatai river, also in Koh Kong province.