High level corruption at centre of forest destruction
14th January 2003, London: In a new report released today by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Telapak, the Government of Indonesia is accused of failing to protect Tanjung Puting National Park, arrest the timber baron behind the logging and prove it is capable of stopping illegal logging.
“Illegal logging is completely out of control”, said Dave Currey, Director of EIA today. “Despite assurances by the government at a Consultative Group on Indonesia (CGI) meeting three years ago that it would stop logging in national parks, the logging has increased. Tanjung Puting National Park in Central Kalimantan was accepted as a test case, yet even here they have completely failed.”
The CGI meets next week with forestry on the agenda. The timber baron and parliament (MPR) member Abdul Rasyid was first named as being behind illegal logging in Tanjung Puting in 1999 and numerous investigations by journalists, government officials and international observers have confirmed these reports. Only last year, three cargo ships loaded with 25,000 m3 of logs were seized by the Indonesian Navy and subsequent investigations and documents linked the ships to Rasyid’s Tanjung Lingga Group of companies. The ships were bound for China even though Indonesia has a log export ban.
Despite the ships being caught red-handed loading the logs off Rasyid’s Pangkalan Bun stronghold, with documents stating their foreign destination, the police failed to prosecute his companies, released the ships and auctioned the logs. 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.
“Corruption has reached such blatant levels in Indonesia that its international rating is equal with Kenya and below Azerbaijan” said Dave Currey. “The complete failure of this government to protect Tanjung Puting is because it refuses to tackle corruption at the highest levels of the political, military and enforcement elite. The desperate state of Indonesia’ s forests simply reflects the endemic corruption that frightens away investors and maintains the impoverishment of ordinary Indonesians.”
The new report “Above the Law: Corruption, Collusion, Nepotism and the Fate of Indonesia’s Forests” chronicles the promises and failures of the government since 1999, presents the evidence of Abdul Rasyid’s companies’ involvement in the logging and the case of the three seized ships and looks at the test case of Tanjung Puting.
“The CGI accepted Tanjung Puting as a test case and must react now to the government’s failure” said Dave Currey. “The President must give leadership and support those in her government who are trying to stop illegal logging by proactively tackling the blatant corruption that blocks all progress. If it is so impossible to stop logging in a national park and prosecute the timber baron named all over the world for its destruction, then all other promises are worthless.”
Footage (available for 14 days), photographs, documents and the new report “Above the Law” available.
For further information contact:
EIA (UK) Office: Ashley Misplon on 0207 354 7984 Editor’s notes:
- Transparency International named Indonesia at 96 out of 102 countries for corruption in its “Corruption Perceptions Index 2002”
- Indonesia contains ten per cent of the world’s remaining tropical forests.
- Over 70 per cent of Indonesia’s original frontier forests have been lost.
- Research indicates that over 70 per cent of timber processed in Indonesia comes from illegal sources.
- Indonesia’s threatened National Parks provide a haven for a host of critically endangered species, including the orangutan, Sumatran tiger, Sumatran rhinoceros, clouded leopard and sun bear.
- EIA/Telapak have been campaigning to stop the illegal logging of Tanjung Puting National Park, Central Kalimantan, since August 1999.
- EIA is an independent environmental non-profit group based in London and Washington DC. More information at www.eia-international.org.
- Telapak is an independent environmental non-profit group based in Bogor, Indonesia.
More information at www.telapak.org.
EIA is an independent, international campaigning organisation committed to investigating and exposing environmental crime.
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