Madagascar government must take action on trafficking of precious wood

Issued by Transparency International Initiative Madagascar



Transparency International - Initiative Madagascar (TI-IM) and the Voahary Gasy Alliance (AVG) were recently approached by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) to collect information and data on rosewood trafficking in Madagascar.

The resulting investigation reinforces our own analysis of the situation and that of other specialized organizations, such as the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

The investigation puts into perspective the current project of selling thousands of stockpiled rosewood logs, which is backed by the Madagascar Government and the World Bank. This project could reactivate dormant trafficking networks and enable illegal transactions to be made under cover of authorized transactions, as has occurred in the past.  

As EIA executive director Alexander von Bismarck explains: "Despite recent alarms raised by international experts, local community representatives, Malagasy civil society, representatives of international and consular organizations, the Madagascar government insists on going through with a sale of stocks that will not only harm the remaining fragile rosewood populations but also benefit the traffickers who will get their money back right away."

We question why the World Bank and other technical and financial partners support the current government on this issue, as world heritage and the future of an entire population are at stake.

Further, TI-IM and AVG note that in 2016, the Madagascan government committed to implementing all the measures recommended by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) concerning the trade and management of precious wood stocks. One of these conditions is to significantly enhance measures to combat illegal logging, including seizures, investigations, arrests, prosecutions and sanctions. However, to the best of our knowledge, none of the seven recommendations put forward by CITES has been followed through on, except to a certain extent Part F (Inventory). However, it appears that this recommendation was only acted upon to facilitate a possible sale of the stocks.

If journalists have been able to infiltrate an existing mafia network and identify specific details of its modus operandi, the government could have done likewise, if it had the political will to do so.

TI-IM and AVG believe that efforts thus far do not reflect a real desire to tackle the core of the issues: the existing networks involving elected officials and political figures; logging in protected areas; and illegal export and marketing.

Government actions on the issue appear to be motivated solely by the desire to secure international funding intended for drawing up an inventory and checking existing rosewood stocks. 

For example, the special rosewood and/or ebony trafficking prosecution service only recently become operational, nearly three years after Law No. 2015-056 of 17 December 2015 was promulgated, and just a few months before the CITES Standing Committee meets in Russia in October this year.

Faced with this state of affairs, TI-IM and the AVG recommend that the government stick to the commitments they have made, in particular by:

  1. Carrying out the expected investigations and enquiries on the whole "precious wood" affair;
  2. Sanctioning without reservation all traffickers and their accomplices, including public and political figures involved in trafficking precious wood;
  3. Meeting the obligations of protecting environmental activists involved in denouncing traffickers and their perpetrators, instead of repressing and terrorizing them;
  4. Demonstrating transparency in drawing up inventories of existing rosewood stocks, by including civil society, and enforcing the measures provided for in the May 2016 Biodiversity Management Plan.

The OCCRP investigation shows that some candidates in the upcoming presidential election have been, or still are, involved in trafficking of precious wood. TI-IM and AVG urge all candidates to publicly state their position on the issue, and specify the measures they advocate for in order to stop the trafficking of precious wood once and for all.

Facilitating the illegal trade in precious wood is an international environmental crime for which the perpetrators must answer in court.

Transparency International is a partner of the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) through the Global Anti-Corruption Consortium, a groundbreaking partnership to accelerate the global fight against corruption by bringing together investigative journalism and advocacy.


For any press enquiries please contact

E: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
T: +49 (0)30 34 38 20 666

Latest

Support Transparency International

Support Us

Power for Nigeria’s people

Bribery in electricity supply ruins livelihoods, but Nigeria’s residents are speaking out.

The terrible consequences of police corruption in South Africa

What do we do when those mandated to protect us are serving other interests than public safety and security? In South Africa, police corruption leaves the public exposed to high rates of crime, and causes distrust of the police service while allowing crime to flourish.

Why do DRC citizens report such high levels of corruption?

People's experiences with corruption in the DRC are far worse than in most other African countries. Why is corruption so prevalent in the DRC, why is bribery so commonplace and why do two thirds of citizens feel powerless?

Three ways to stop money laundering through real estate

Around the world, buying property is a favourite method for the corrupt to launder their ill-gotten gains. However, there are concrete measures that make it significantly more difficult for the corrupt to stash their dirty money in real estate.

Announcing the theme for the 19th edition of the International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC)

Designing 2030: Truth, Trust & Transparency

Protecting Africa’s wildlife from corruption

When they deliberate over amendments to the global wildlife trade regime, CoP18 must address impunity for illegal timber trafficking in Africa as a matter of high priority.

How the US can help Mongolia get to grips with corruption

A series of bi-lateral meetings and a proposed trade agreement present an opportunity for the US to promote rule of law and an independent judiciary in Mongolia.

Blood diamonds and land corruption in Sierra Leone

A community in Sierra Leone has created powerful short videos documenting their experiences of corruption, forced evictions and a botched resettlement programme at the hands of a multinational diamond mining company.

Countries must be more transparent when investigating transnational corruption

Supervisory and justice systems should be transparent and accountable so that the public can assess their performance.

Resilient institutions

Reducing corruption is an important component of the sustainable development agenda, and one that all state parties have an obligation to address. Although corruption is often thought of as a ‘third-world problem’, institutions in the Global North play an important role in the corruption cycle, and are therefore an essential part of the solutions.

Social Media

Follow us on Social Media