December 6, 2022

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson: Cambodian Embassy Working to Seek Justice for Arrested Officials on Duty

The Royal Cambodian Embassy in the U.S. is coordinating through both diplomatic and legal channels over the case of arrested Cambodian officials on duty.
H.E. Chum Sounry, Secretary of State and Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said on Nov. 18 that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Royal Cambodian Embassy is working through diplomatic and legal channels to protect and seek justice for the Cambodian officials who have been detained while on official mission.
“Our embassy is also seeking to meet with the arrested officials and looking for a defence lawyer,” he added.
Mr. Kry Masphal, Director of Wildlife and Biodiversity Department, had been arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, whilst in transit to attend the meeting of the Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Panama.
According to the announcement on the website of the U.S. Justice Department, he and the head of Forestry Administration have been indicted for alleged conspiracy to smuggle crab eating monkeys into the U.S.
In a press release issued last night, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) affirmed that Cambodia will make its utmost efforts in order to seek justice for its officials, especially those on official duty representing the country according to international conventions.
“We uphold CITES convention’s principles and laws. It is a big irony that he, who was going to attend an official meeting at the United Nations forum to protect the endangered species of wild fauna and flora, has been arrested under such alleged conspiracy, while both Cambodia and the USA, maintain good diplomatic relations,” MAFF said.
The crab-eating monkeys are commonly scattered all over Cambodia, in the wilderness and suburban and urban areas including Wat Phnom tourist site in Phnom Penh, it pointed out.
Since 2005, the source explained, the monkeys have been farmed in Cambodia and are exported for pharmaceutical research for new medicines and vaccines as well as cosmetic products. They are not caught from the wilderness and smuggled out, but farmed in decent manners with respect to good hygiene and health standards so as to preserve their gene pool. As obliged by CITES convention and applicable laws, only next generation of monkeys are exported.
Cambodian CITES management authority has allowed their exports based on both domestic and international laws and regulations, said MAFF, adding that as for their imports into the U.S., the import companies shall be responsible for complying with all U.S. procedures.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press