Indonesia Officials Reopen Illegal Logging Case

By Ben Nystrom, 06/13/11

Good news in the international fight against illegal logging operations! According to an article in the Jakarta Globe, officials from Indonesia's Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) are moving forward with an investigation into provincial and local government officials allegedly involved in illegal logging and environmental destruction.

Driven in part by a special report in the Jakarta Globe detailing a $115 billion illegal logging operation in Riau, the KPK recently announced it will pursue investigations into two former heads of the Riau forestry agency suspected of issuing illegal permits to 14 different pulp and paper companies between 2001 and 2003. The case has been active for years, with two prominent Riau government officials - former head of the forestry agency Asral Rachman and former district chief of Pelalawan Tengku Azmun - already convicted and carrying out prison sentences.

Indonesia's illegal logging problem was put on the back burner in 2008, when police investigations were closed due to "lack of evidence". In April 2010, however, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ordered the Judicial Mafia Eradication Task Force to investigate. Joining forces with civil activist groups such as Indonesia Corruption Watch and the Indonesian Forum for the Environment, the coalition developed a report that suggested judicial corruption was to blame for halting the police investigations and named 12 public officials, including a governor and two senior police officials, as being directly involved.

Like many parts of the world, Indonesia has had its fair share of struggles with illegal logging operations. By continuing to pursue this horrible operation and massive cover-up, however, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the KPK have shown their dedication to fighting illegal, unsustainable logging operations and government corruption. Only by squashing these illegal operations and promoting sustainable timber harvesting will Indonesia be able to create jobs, boost local economies, and maintain a renewable resource for generations to come.

By Ben Nystrom, 06/13/11

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