Jakarta, 29th September 2004: Civil society representatives at the sharp end of fighting the timber mafia today issued an agenda for the new President’s first 100 days to combat illegal logging. Meeting at the News Café in Jakarta with media, politicians and international donors, the NGOs presented videos and photographs of many of the injustices taking place across Indonesia’s forests today.
The meeting was arranged by Telapak and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) to showcase the visual work of partners from all over Indonesia. Telapak and EIA have been supporting NGOs in forest investigation and documentation for the past 4 years in a project supported by the Government of Indonesia and the UK’s Department for International Development’s Multistakeholder Forestry Programme.
The NGOs called on Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and all government institutions to give priority to fighting illegal logging which is embedded in endemic corruption fuelled by well organized and financed timber mafia. Many of the timber barons have been identified but little action has taken place. The NGOs set out an agenda for the President’s first 100 days:
- Set up a proactive Illegal Logging Task Force which reports directly to the President.
- Set up an ad hoc court for high profile illegal logging cases made up of trusted judges with committed prosecutors.
- Successfully prosecute major timber barons and corrupt officials in the ad hoc court sending a message to the country that financiers of illegal logging will be tackled.
- Pass a decree allowing visual evidence (video and photographs) to be admissible evidence in the ad hoc court.
- Renew proactive effort through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to develop the MOU on trade in timber with China and develop other bilateral cooperation in the region to combat illegal logging.
- Pass a decree diverting all funds from transparent auctions of seized illegal timber to illegal logging enforcement activities.
“Many of these NGOs risk their lives gathering evidence of forest abuse with little recognition from the political elite” said Dave Currey, Director of EIA. “This dedication to reversing the disaster faced by Indonesia’s forests needs recognition and action from Indonesia’s new President. ”
The NGOs present included PASe, YLL, Hakiki, Ulayat, Wanacala, ARuPA, Silvagama, Lakpesdam, Jurnal Celebes, Evergreen, Yascita, LPMA, Madanika, and Padi.
“Our NGO partners know the destruction caused to Indonesia’s forests by illegal logging all over the country” said Arbi Valentinus, Forest Campaign Coordinator of Telapak, “and they call on the new President to stamp down on corruption which drives illegal logging with 6 initial actions.”
Telapak – Arbi Valentinus 0811 11 7143
EIA – Dave Currey 0812 987 3155 or Julian Newman 0812 998 6264
Note for Editor:
- Indonesia contains ten percent of the world’s remaining tropical forests.
- Over 70 percent of Indonesia’s original frontier forests have been lost.
- Research indicates that around 80 percent of timber processed in Indonesia comes from illegal sources.
- 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.kaoemtelapak.org
More explanation of key agenda:
Set up a proactive Illegal Logging Task Force which reports directly to the President. It is necessary for the President to take direct responsibility for this task force to break down the interdepartmental impasse on this issue. The task force must include representatives of the Ministry of Forestry, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Attorney General’s Office, the TNI and the National Police. This task force should use all legal instruments including money laundering legislation.
Set up an ad hoc court for high profile illegal logging cases made up of trusted judges with committed prosecutors. Corruption and failure of the judiciary have stalled any real progress in combating illegal logging in previous administrations. It is necessary to set up an ad hoc court to fast-track prosecutions through the court so as to send a strong message to everyone in the country that illegal logging is a serious economic and security issue for the nation as well as being an environmental disaster. This is an emergency measure.
Successfully prosecute major timber barons and corrupt officials in the ad hoc court sending a message to the country that financiers of illegal logging will be tackled. Major timber barons are already known to the Ministry of Forestry, the Police, civil society and the media. Senior corrupt officials work with the timber barons. A few successfully prosecuted high profile cases will give considerable momentum to the fight against illegal logging.
Pass a decree allowing visual evidence (video and photographs) to be admissible evidence in the ad hoc court. Civil society throughout the country has considerable evidence of illegal logging in Indonesia’s forests. Evidence caught on camera with GPS coordinates of where the crimes take place should be admissible evidence in the ad hoc court.
Renew proactive effort through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to develop the MOU on trade in timber with China and develop other bilateral cooperation in the region to combat illegal logging. An MOU was signed with China in 2002 to help curb the flow of illegal timber into China but despite a draft action plan being drawn up, there has been no action. China is a major importer of Indonesian logs and timber despite Indonesia having a log export ban. The MOFA must proactively open discussions with China to focus on the intention of this MOU.
Pass a decree diverting all funds from transparent auctions of seized illegal timber to illegal logging enforcement activities. Seized log and timber auctions are often viewed as a laundering process with the timber ending up in the hands of the same people that illegally cut the logs. All auctions of seized timber must be transparent and the revenue from the sale should be put into increased enforcement activity.