The cancellation of the concessions had been announced by the Minister of Environment, Robert Bopolo, on July 13, a day after Greenpeace Africa exposed the secret and illegal awarding of the concessions in the report “How the DRC government has secretly breached its own logging moratorium”.
“The formal cancellation of the concessions was a priority, but this is not enough, given the involvement of officials at the highest level in concealing these violations of the moratorium on the allocation of new industrial logging titles implemented by the DRC in 2002”, said Irene Wabiwa Betoko, Senior Forest Campaign Manager at Greenpeace Africa.
Greenpeace Africa investigations documented in the report reveal that the former Minister of Environment, Bienvenu Liyota, signed the illegal allocations and is therefore involved in the breach of the moratorium. Furthermore, the signature of the current Minister of Environment, Mr Bopolo, on mission orders to the illegally allocated concessions, demonstrates that the Minister must have been aware of these concessions.
On 25 July, Greenpeace Africa has sent a request to the General Prosecutor of the Republic to launch an investigation based on the violations exposed in this report, but so far there is no indication that action has been taken by the relevant authorities to call Mr. Liyota and Mr. Bopolo to account. Also the government has not given any guarantees that it has investigated and can ensure that there have been no further breaches of the moratorium.
“In order for the government to regain its credibility, it should have given a clear sign that it will not tolerate impunity for these criminal acts and has strengthened their control over the moratorium. As a minimum, DRC authorities should have convened an independent investigation commission whose work would already have allowed them to determine the responsibilities of all involved and to take appropriate sanctions. A measure that has been asked repeatedly by Greenpeace Africa since these breaches have been exposed”, added Wabiwa.
The DRC government is currently developing a multi-million dollar programme with several donor countries such as Norway, France and the United Kingdom, to protect their forest as part of the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI). Greenpeace Africa believes that the absence of corrective actions from the DRC government illustrates the lack of good governance in the forest sector and is a clear threat for the successful implementation of the CAFI programme in the DRC.
“In order to prevent misuse of this programme money, CAFI donors must take concerns of civil society organisations seriously and insist that the DRC government takes the above mentioned corrective actions and request a further investigation to determine whether there have been any further breaches of the moratorium, before any CAFI money is being disbursed”, concluded Wabiwa.
Greenpeace Africa views this illegal award of new concessions as an attempt by the DRC government to lift the moratorium before the prerequisites are met which poses a direct threat in efforts to safeguard the second largest rainforest in the world.
Irène Wabiwa Betoko, Senior Forest Campaign Manager, Greenpeace Africa
Maureen Grisot, International communication coordinator, Greenpeace Africa
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