Six months after announcing strong actions to tackle a dramatic breakdown in the rule of law in the logging industry, the government of Liberia has yet to deliver.
This briefing presents evidence that suggests the government’s failure to crack down on criminal activity in the forest sector and is enabling companies and individuals to continue flouting the law, with the increasingly grave consequences for the country’s rainforests and the communities that should be benefitting from them.
In December 2012, a Liberian government investigation reported systemic legal violations, including fraud and corruption in the issuance of illegal logging licenses called Private Use Permits (PUPs), which cover a quarter of Liberia’s surface area.
The investigation report recommended that the government cancel PUP contracts and prosecute those guilty of violating laws. In response, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf quickly issued an Executive Order placing a moratorium on logging by PUP holders and committing to prosecute and sanction those who broke the law.
Government officials state that they are implementing the Executive Order, but so far no PUPs have been revoked and no criminal charges have been filed.
At the same time, it has been alleged to Global Witness that individuals involved in Liberia’s wartime timber industry now occupy prominent positions in two major logging companies that also hold PUPs. This is a potential violation of Liberian laws intended to prevent those implicated in the trade in conflict timber from profiting from the sector.