Archive for the ‘corrupt officials’ Category

Vietnam Hub Of Illegal Timber Trade

March 19, 2008

The BBC

Vietnam has become a major South-East Asian hub for processing illegally logged timber, according to a report from two environmental charities.

The trade threatens some of the last intact forests in the region, say the UK-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Indonesia’s Telapak.

Because Vietnam has increased measures to protect its own forest, producers are getting timber from other nations.

The authors add that some of the timber is reaching the UK as garden furniture.

“Over the last decade, governments around the world have made a raft of pronouncements regarding the seriousness of illegal logging and their determination to tackle it,” the authors of the Borderlines report say.

The cost of such unfettered greed is borne by rural communities in Laos who are dependent on the forests for their traditional livelihoods.

Julian Newman,Head of forest camaigns, EIA, said, “The stark reality is ‘business as usual’ for the organised syndicates looting the remaining precious tropical forests for a quick profit.”

The report says that an increase in the price of raw timber has prompted some wood producing countries, such as Indonesia, to take steps to combat illegal logging.

But, they explain, as tougher measures were enforced by one country, the problem shifts to another.

Uncertain future

EIA and Telapak say they have gathered evidence that “Vietnam is now exploiting the forests of neighbouring Laos to obtain valuable hardwoods for its outdoor furniture industry”, which contravenes Laotian laws banning the export of logs and sawn timber.

They add that they also obtained evidence that timber traders from Thailand and Singapore were also securing raw materials from Laos.

Many rural communities’ long-term survival depend on forests.

The researchers who compiled the report said they met a Thai businessman who openly admitted paying bribes to secure a consignment of timber with a potential value of half a billion dollars.

“The cost of such unfettered greed is borne by rural communities in Laos who are dependent on the forests for their traditional livelihoods,” said EIA’s head of forest campaigns, Julian Newman.

“They gain virtually nothing from this trade; instead, the money goes to corrupt officials in Laos and businesses in Vietnam and Thailand.”

The authors estimate there are about 1,500 wood processing enterprises in Vietnam with a total processing capacity of more than 2.5m cubic metres of logs a year. They believe outdoor furniture accounts for about 90% of the country’s total wood exports.

Although the Vietnamese government has been tightening controls on logging since the early 1990s, it is also encouraging the wooden furniture industry to expand.

EIA said the nation had relaxed regulations concerning ownership in order to facilitate foreign investment, and it was also actively promoting the sector in overseas markets.

Mixed message

The groups said that ultimate responsibility had to rest with western markets that imported products made from the uncertified timber.

Illegal logging is a long-standing concern for environmentalists”To some extent, the dynamic growth of Vietnam’s furniture industry is driven by the demand of end markets such as the European Union and US,” the report concludes.

“Until these states clean up their act and shut their markets to wood products made from illegal timber, the loss of precious tropical forests will continue unabated.”

The team found that many leading brands and retailers had “taken the necessary steps” to ensure that certified and legal timber was used in products they sourced from Vietnamese producers.

But researchers, posing as furniture buyers, found that a number of companies operating in the UK had failed to take the appropriate measures to ensure illegal timber was not entering the country.

Stemming the flow

In an effort to prevent illegal timber entering its borders, the EU developed an initiative called Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (Flegt) in 2003, aimed at forming partnerships with timber producing countries.

The scheme is underpinned by Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs), which involve establishing a certification system to ensure only legally sourced timber enters EU markets.

Global demand for wood products is driving the trade, the report saysMalaysia began negotiations in 2006 to establish a VPA, and Indonesia embarked on a similar process in 2007.

EIA says the system focuses on direct shipments from the country, and does not take into account the fact that raw timber can pass through several countries, eg from Laos into Vietnam.

“Another problem with VPAs is that end products such as furniture are currently not included on the list of timber categories to be controlled,” the report says.

Gareth Thomas, the UK’s International Trade and Development Minister, said the report raised a number of concerns.

“Through the EU, we will be raising this with the Vietnamese government. I personally will be raising this with my Vietnamese counterpart,” he told BBC News.

“We will explore with G8 colleagues whether there is G8 action we can take in this area.”

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Pakistan: Muhammad Reports From the Tribal Areas

November 5, 2007

November 5, 2007 

Dear John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Dear Sir,

What you have stated a few days ago in an email to me has happened. Your observation was proved to be correct. It shows that you have been doing a good job for the your country and Pakistan. In other words I shall simply say that you have been great to us.

After the declaration of emergency the situation of our areas has taken a dramatic turn for better. According to a report, Tribal militants released 213 Pakistan Army soldiers in South Waziristan on Sunday after the government freed 25 of their men under a prisoners’ swap made possible by a 21-member peace Jirga.

The soldiers had been in the custody of militants loyal to Baitullah Mahsud since August 30. They had surrendered along with 35 other troops to the militants after their military convoy was trapped in the Shawangi Naray area near Wana.

Maj-Gen Waheed Arshad, director-general, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), confirmed the reports about the release of the Pakistan Army troops. Talking to newsmen, he said 25 tribesmen held under the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) by the local authorities had also been freed and delivered to the Jirga. In reply to a question, he said the militants had already returned the military vehicles and the arms seized from the troops.

Tribal and official sources said the 213 soldiers were handed over by the militants to the Jirga at Tiarza, a village located in the Mahsud tribal territory, and then driven in 13 vehicles to Wana. Once in Wana, the freed soldiers were delivered to the military authorities. The militants gifted a pair of new shalwar-kameez and chappals to each soldier before seeing them at Tiarza.

Among the freed soldiers were six army officers, including a colonel, majors and captains. Colonel Zafar led the military convoy that was seized by the militants.

Militants’ sources said the prisoners’ swap became possible when the government agreed to release 25 of their men. They said the 25 tribesmen were collected from different jails in various cities and brought to Dera Ismail Khan Saturday before being flown to Wana in a helicopter Sunday. They said these men were then handed over to the tribal Jirga which brought them to Tiarza to complete the prisoners’ swap. Contrary to the claims by government officials, almost all of them were booked on terrorism charges and jailed.

These 25 men included Suhail Zeb, a cousin of militants’ commander Baitullah Mahsud. He was arrested by the police from a bungalow on Canal Road in Dera Ismail Khan along with three suicide bombers reportedly wearing explosives-filled jackets. They were later tried in a court and sentenced to 24 years imprisonment. Two of these 25 men were arrested in Karachi and were being held in a jail there.

The 21-member peace Jirga, which comprises 11 Mahsud tribal elders and 10 clerics from the tribe, had been mediating between the militants and the government. Maulana Merajuddin, a former MNA from South Waziristan affiliated with JUI-F and MMA, and his colleague Senator Saleh Shah, were among the more active members of the jirga.

The militants had also demanded an end to all military deployment and operations in the areas inhabited by Mahsud tribe in South Waziristan. They wanted the removal of roadside checkpoints in their area. The government appears to have accepted most of their demands.

Dear Sir, now President Musharraf has been showing seriousness in war on terrorism. One thing is disturbing his team, through which he is running the administration, is consisting of the same corrupt officials. At least the people of Bajaur Agency, tribal areas will never forget your cooperation in their struggle against terrorists.

Thank you very much,

Yours sincerely,

Muhammad Khurshid
Khar, Bajaur Agency,
Tribal Areas Pakistan