INTERPOL report highlights problems caused by illegal logging in PNG
A report [download below] from the International Criminal Police Organisation INTERPOL estimates 70% of logging in Papua New Guinea is illegal
INTERPOL is the largest international police organisation in the world and has 188 member countries, including Papua New Guinea which joined in 1976.
The report, ‘An INTERPOL perspective on law enforcement and illegal logging’ has been published as part of INTERPOL’s Project Chainsaw which looks at the problem of illegal logging from the perspective of international criminal justice.
The report describes illegal logging “as a succession of criminal activities undertaken at an international level by a network of organised criminals”. INTERPOL says the main motivation for illegal logging is profit and “illegal logging encompasses a number of sophisticated forms of enterprise and fraudulent practices which encompass a wide range of unlawful activities and consequently requires a significant degree of organisation”.
In Papua New Guinea the Malaysian company Rimbunan Hijau controls over 70% of logging operations and has frequently been accused of illegal logging. RH has lost a number of high profile court cases over the legality of its logging permits.
According to INTERPOL forest crimes committed in the country of origin of the timber include fraudulent practices such as:
- obtaining a concession by illegal means such as bribes or threats;
- providing concessions on a corrupt basis;
- harvesting protected timber species or timber from protected areas;
- logging without licenses or in non-authorised concession areas;
- harvesting trees below legal diameter or in a larger volume than authorized;
- cutting similar but different timber species than the one permitted.
The report also discusses money laundering, which is the process by which the proceeds of crime, which in the case of illegal logging amounts to millions if not billions of dollars, are covered up by being invested into asset purchases.
Rimbunan Hijau which has been operating in PNG since the mid-1980′s has more recently made huge investments in residential and commercial property in Papua New Guinea including the huge Vision City mega-mall complex. RH has never revealed the source of the funds for these investments.
INTERPOL also highlights that illegal logging poses “a potentially significant threat to national security as it promotes the development of criminal groups and networks”. Illegal logging also corrupts puplic officials and compromises the integrity of democratic institutions, says INTERPOL in its report.
Interpol Report 2011 [1.2mb]