NGOs keep an eye on forestry mafia

EoF News / 04 February 2010

PEKANBARU (EoF News)—‘Forestry mafia’ should be wiped out, environmental groups insisted, as corruption practices had influenced decision makers in issuing permit for clearing natural forest.

Environmental and anti-corruption organizations would file report to the Indonesian Anti-Corruption Commission (KPK) for alleged forestry mafia involvement as their investigation found that the State suffered to trillions rupiah loss due illegal logging and forest conversion driven by graft practices.

On Thursday the coalition will submit the report on this forestry mafia to KPK [anti-corruption body],” said Susanto Kurniawan, spokesperson for Forestry Mafia Watch Coalition, at a press briefing in Jakarta on Wednesday (3/2/2010), website reported.

“Nearly all permits issued by the Ministry of Forestry have indications of corruption. The number varies from one place to another and depends on circumstances,” Susanto said as quoted by the Jakarta Globe. “Corruption occurs at almost every level, including securing permits, obtaining concessions and overlooking irregularities.” 

The coalition monitors natural forest conversion involving local officials in the provinces and districts as they suspect the State suffer the loss amount to Rp 30 trillion annually, the website reported. The coalition consists of ICW, Walhi, Jikalahari, Sawit Watch, Jatam, and others.

“We will claim the commitment by KPK and will urge KPK to prioritize cases involving the forestry mafia,” Indonesian Corruption Watch researcher Emerson Yuntho told media at the press briefing.

The coalition said that to curb masterminds of forestry mafia was a must. They allegedly are coming from corporate, officials issuing licenses at local and national levels who make efforts to pass the licenses, as well as legal enforcers who have deal with the companies and officials.

Meanwhile, in another occasion, director executive of Walhi Riau (the Indonesian Environment Forum of Riau province) Hariansyah Usman urged KPK to prosecute corruption cases allegedly involving Siak district head and three former Riau forestry service heads for issuing natural forest clearing licenses.

“This could be a big question to Riau people. Why is only Tengku Azmun [Jaafar, jailed former Pelalawan district head] punished, while legal processes to three provincial former forestry officials and a district head are at stalemate? However, the four officials named suspects,” Hariansyah said as quoted by Sinar Harapan daily on Monday (1/2/2010).