Friday, May 2, 2008

For Liberian logging companies, the past may come back to haunt

It wasn’t long ago that we posted a little piece on the politics surrounding Liberia’s decision to open up the bidding process for logging companies to begin cutting trees and selling the lumber on the international market. This made news because in 2003 the UN Security Council banned the country from exporting timber because profits from the industry were going to purchase guns and fueling the country’s civil war.

Even though it will be providing jobs and much needed financial resources to the country, re-launching the timber sector is something of a controversial move. For one, many timber companies have bloody hands from their role in the decade-long civil war. Thus, the government decided not to grant licenses to those companies involved in aiding and abetting civil disturbances, codewords, apparently, for involvement with warlords.

Anyway, the Forest Development Authority has now barred 17 logging companies from taking part in the new timber contracts. The Inquirer from Monrovia claims that these companies have been accused of at least one of the following actions: supporting militias, facilitating sales of arms for timber, or aiding civil instability. So far, one company has appealed the decision.

1 comment:

BRE said...

This is good news to learn that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's administration is having some success in its crackdown on corrupt and illicit businesses that operated under the regime of former Liberian president Charles Taylor.

The BBC News reported May 2nd that the Chief Prosecutor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone's trial of Charles Taylor at the ICC in The Hague has evidence that Taylor had more than US$5 billion stashed away in overseas bank accounts. Once the US and European feds get onto that money trail it will definately shake more than a few Liberia timber barons out of their trees.

I was here today to checkout your Dec 2007 article about small arms reform in Liberia. I see also that you are a GVO author which is great. You are a good online journalist and blogger and your writing style is smooth as well. Keep up the good work.