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SOS Rhino : In the News : Indonesian Government Fails to Stop Illegal Logging

Indonesian Government Fails to Stop Illegal Logging


14 January 2003
London, UK

(ENS) - Corruption on the part of Indonesian police and government officials is to blame for continued illegal logging in Indonesia's national parks, a report released today in London by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and the Indonesian environmental organization Telapak charges. The groups accuse the government of Indonesia of failing to protect Tanjung Puting National Park, and failing to arrest the timber baron behind illicit logging there.
“ Illegal logging is completely out of control,” said EIA Director Dave Currey. EIA is an independent, international campaigning organization committed to investigating and exposing environmental crime.

“ Despite assurances by the government at a Consultative Group for Indonesia (CGI) meeting three years ago that it would stop logging in national parks, the logging has increased," Currey said. "Tanjung Puting National Park in Central Kalimantan was accepted as a test case, yet even here they have completely failed.”

The Consultative Group for Indonesia is a group of donors convened annually by the World Bank that includes the governments of the industrial democracies, the multi-lateral banks, and several agencies of the United Nations.
The new EIA report “Above the Law: Corruption, Collusion, Nepotism and the Fate of Indonesia’s Forests,” details the promises and failures of the government since 1999.

Timber baron and Member of Parliament Abdul Rasyid was first named as being behind illegal logging in Tanjung Puting National Park in 1999, and numerous investigations by journalists, government officials and international observers have confirmed these reports.

Last year, the EIA says, three cargo ships were seized by the Indonesian Navy loaded with 25,000 cubic meters of logs off Rasyid’s Pangkalan Bun stronghold. Investigations and documents linked the ships to Rasyid’s Tanjung Lingga Group of companies. Indonesia has a log export ban, but the ships were bound for China.

Still, the police failed to prosecute Rasyid's companies, released the ships and auctioned the logs, the EIA found. The operation to seize the ships had been devised with cooperation between the Navy and the Ministry of Forestry, but the prosecution was dependent on the police.
The EIA report presents the evidence of Rasyid’s companies’ involvement in the logging and the case of the three seized ships and looks at the test case of logging in Tanjung Puting National Park.

“ Corruption has reached such blatant levels in Indonesia that its international rating is equal with Kenya and below Azerbaijan,” said Currey.

“ The complete failure of this government to protect Tanjung Puting," Currey charged, "is because it refuses to tackle corruption at the highest levels of the political, military and enforcement elite. The CGI accepted Tanjung Puting as a test case and must react now to the government’s failure.”



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