Minister blames District Head, Jikalahari urges law enforcement

EoF News / 10 April 2008

PEKANBARU (EoF News)—Minister of Forestry Malam Sambat Kaban blamed detained Pelalawan District Head Azmun Jaafar over allegedly issuing 15 logging licenses to companies and insisted his decision to grant verification for pulp and paper companies in Riau, media reported yesterday (8/4/2008).

Minister Kaban testified as a witness in Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) office, Jakarta, on Monday (7/4/2008) over alleged graft case of Pelalawan District Head Azmun Jaafar.

He told the press that his ministry did not legitimize the logging licenses issued by the District Head. “Verification by the Ministry of Forestry recently is not legitimizing Decrees by Pelalawan District Head. I just see if [we] refer to the regulation at that time is clearcy far from the rules,” Kaban told the press as quoted by Media Indonesia as saying Tuesday (8/4/2008)

Responding to the Minister’s statement, Jikalahari, an NGO network in Riau, criticized the minister saying that the Ministry of Forestry has never taken action against environmental crimes committed due to 32 logging licenses issued by 5 District Heads in Riau.

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“The statement [by the Minister Kaban] in view of Jikalahari has disclosed a curtail that there has been extremely severe syndication in the crime of illegal logging occurring in Riau recently,” Jikalahari  said through its press release circulated Tuesday (8/4/2008).

The NGOs network said the Ministry of Forestry did not pay attention much to rampant illegal logging occurred in Riau following the issuance licenses by the District Head.

“Even the illegal logs are allowed for consumption by the two Riau’s pulp and paper companies,” Jikalahari said.  The two companies operating in Riau are  Asia Pulp &  Paper (APP) and  Asian  Pacific Resources  International Limited  (APRIL).

Concerning to the ongoing license misuse probe by KPK to Pelalawan District Head Azmun Jaafar, Jikalahari urged other law enforcers to also immediately accomplish illegal logging cases as part of avoiding further deforestation in Indonesia, particularly in Riau province.

EoF learned that according to data from Riau Provincial Forestry Service 2006, during 2002-2003 (not 2002-2006 as media reported recently), Pelalawan District Head of Pelalawan has issued 23 IUPHHKHT/HTI licenses.