29 Mar 2007

Call for the Indonesian government to move against main offenders in illegal log trade

7:12 pm on 29 March 2007

An NGO in Indonesia says efforts to curb illegal logging are undermined by a weak and corrupt judicial system.

The Environmental Investigation Agency says efforts to control the multi billion dollar illegal trade in logs is frustrated at all stages of Indonesia's justice system with police, prosecutors and judges conspiring to ensure the main culprits stay free.

A spokesperson for the EIA, Julian Newman, says, for example, a government crackdown in Papua in 2005 identified 186 offenders but only 13 convictions were secured and included none of the ringleaders.

He says they do believe the government is committed to ending illegal logging and that the 1500 strong party sent by President Yudhuyono to Papua in 2005 had an impact.

".From our monitoring of trade markets around China and Malaysia, we did see a decline in Indonesian smuggled timber reaching those markets, but unfortunately because that enforcement didn't touch the people at the top of the power structure, we are getting more smuggling again, so it's on the rise again."