Minister vows to hunt down illegal loggers, backers

EoF News / 01 July 2006

Cabinet Minister Rachmat Witoelar said Thursday in Bogor of West Java that illegal logging capitalists must be responsible for recent floods and mudflows disaster in several provinces in Indonesia, Republika daily reported Friday.

The minister said harvesting log in rainforest regarded as an ecological crime. Legal suit will be also rendered to local officials issuing the license, beside the license holders and members of TNI and Polri who back up the illegal logging, website reported.

Rachmat said the government is inventorying database of ecological damage of rainforest and critical condition forest as well as perpetrators allegedly involved in illegal logging practice.

He said the Environment Ministry has filed dozens of perpetrators’ identity, yet he refused to unveil now. “If I disclose [perpetrators’ name] right now, they will run away,” the minister said.

Despite the ministry has no authority to apprehend the illegal loggers, he will submit his blacklist to the police due to he desperately wants they are detained by the law enforcers.

On separate occasion, Director of Specific Crime of Intelligence Unit at Indonesian Police Headquarters, Brigadier General Suharto, said document abuse in illegal logging also occurs at upstream level, not only at downstream one.

He exemplified modus operandi such as counterfeiting document of timber verification, its trade, money laundering from illegal logging transaction, collusion between official and illegal logger, and harvesting forest products within areas that the holder has no license.

The 295-page State of the Environment Report 2005, released Tuesday by the Office of the State Minister for the Environment, said forest conversion practices along with rampant illegal logging increased the deforestation rate to 3.5 million hectares in 2005, The Jakarta Post reported.

EoF learns that according to the Law Number 41 Year 1999 on Forestry , cutting trees or harvesting or collecting any forest products within the forest area without holding any rights or license issued by authorised officials “shall be liable to punishment by imprisonment up to a maximum of 10 (ten) years and a fine up to a maximum of Rp. 5,000,000,000,- (five billion rupiah).”

Original articles in Bahasa:

KLH Kejar Pembalak Liar Menneg LH Minta Tanggung Jawab Pemegang Izin HPH