Indonesia – Navy Nabs Log Smugglers

NavyNabs Log Smugglers

 (published by Laksamana.Net, 30 January 2004)


The Navyhas impounded two Indonesian-flagged vessels carrying a total of 1,268 logswithout official permits in waters near Aru island, Maluku province, an officialsaid Thursday (29/1/04).

Navyspokesman Colonel Alex Subiyanto said it was believed the logs were beingtransported to foreign countries. He said the two vessels, the KM Fitria Perdanaand KM Semangat Lestari I, were captured on January 27 and taken to a naval basein Ambon, the capital of Maluku.

Commanderof the Navy’s Base II, Rear Admiral Hadi Harsono, on Thursday demanded thatcourts impose harsh sentences on the masterminds of illegal logging and illegalfishing. “The sanction must commensurate the severity of the violation, andthere must be no compromise. Each violation must toughly handled,” he wasquoted as saying by state news agency Antara. He was speaking after the transferof a ship, seized by the Navy for transporting illegally logged timber, to theForestry Ministry.

The KMBravery Falkon was captured earlier this year by the Navy’s Tongkol-813 patrolboat in waters off Maluku while carrying 17 tons of merbau logs from Papuaprovince and heading for China. In an effort to combat rampant illegal loggingand timber smuggling, the Forestry Ministry is planning to build a jail forperpetrators of forestry crimes and establish a directorate to deal with suchcrimes.

ForestryMinister M. Prakosa on January 20 said that under the proposed specialdirectorate, officials from his ministry would have the authority to summon andinvestigate suspected wrongdoers. They would also be able to submit dossiers andevidence to state prosecution offices.

EnvironmentMinister Nabiel Makarim has repeatedly called for the creation of a specialcourt to deal with environmental cases due to the rife corruption within regularcourts.

Poor lawenforcement is widely regarded as one of the main causes of the rampantdestruction of Indonesia’s forests and other environmental features. Makarimhas long complained that many environmental issues brought before the courtshave not been dealt with appropriately. Violations of the environment law areserious offences but the culprits often get off the hook thanks to their accessto power and money.

Only ahandful of more than 200 plantation and timber companies accused of startingfires to clear concession land over the past seven years have ever been broughtto court and even fewer have been found guilty.

Makarimhas complained that prosecutors tend to demand short jail sentences for thosesuspected of environmental crimes, while judges generally hand down even shortersentences or acquittals.

Increasingillegal logging in Indonesia is reportedly inflicting an annual financial lossof Rp30 trillion on the state and damaging 43 million hectares of forest.Hundreds of Indonesians were killed last year in flashfloods and landslides thatenvironmentalists said were exacerbated or caused by illegal logging.


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