NGOs: paper products tainted by corruption

EoF News / 11 May 2012

EoF News (PEKANBARU) -- A coalition of Indonesia’s NGOs called Anti-Forest Mafia Coalition urged global pulp buyers last week to beware of allegedly corruption-tainted pulp products following an analysis of timber companies’ involvement in graft cases that jailed government officials in Riau province.

The coalition in a press conference in Jakarta also urged the government to curb logging licenses to companies who allegedly involved in forest corruption cases and bring the timber companies to justice.

The NGOs consist of Jikalahari, ICW, IWGFF, Walhi, Sawit Watch, Telapak, Greenpeace and Huma held a press conference last week following the coalition’s submission of data on corruption to the national Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) on Monday (1 May 2012).

Four government officials are sentenced in prison and another one is detained for by Indonesia law enforcement on charges of accepting bribes for logging licenses given to Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and APRIL affiliates who supply wood to the two companies’ pulp mills.

The coalition said that timber suppliers related to APP and APRIL still rely on natural forest timber forests to keep the mills running and APP even started to develop a new pulp mill in South Sumatra to add more pressure on the island’s already scarce forests and deep, carbon rich peat soil.

“We have been monitoring and trying to stop massive deforestation to supply global demand for paper and the devastating impacts on our people, our wildlife and the global climate,” said Muslim of Jikalahari.

Global paper buyers have likely purchased pulp and paper products linked to bribery and corruption.  “We call global buyers stay away from paper made from deforestation in Riau and investors not to  fund further destruction,” he added.

At least 10 and 25 wood supplier companies for APP and APRIL have been either confirmed, alleged or indicated to have provided bribes to government officials to be able to harvest natural forest and develop plantations in areas where they were not supposed to do so.

In 2011, two and three companies were still clearing natural forest in these areas for APP and APRIL, respectively. As the table of companies linked to corruption issued by the coalition, nine companies who received licenses from bupati are among the 14 companies whom the Ministry of Environment plans to sue.

None of the allegedly involved wood suppliers has been convicted or barred from operating in the areas to supply APP and APRIL with tainted plantation or natural forest wood, the coalition said.