Central African Republic: Europe funds illegal logging and war

July 19, 2015

Seleka militia.

European countries have been indirectly contributing to massive human rights violations and heavy environmental damage in the Central African Republic, an investigative report by Global Witness, released on July 15, revealed.

Under the rule of the rebel Seleka group that took power with a bloody coup in March 2013, until they were violently ousted in January 2014, foreign timber traders have continued to make profits from selling Central African wood species “thanks to lucrative financial arrangements concluded with Seleka leaders,” said the report.

A total of €3.4 million in total would have ended in the hands of Seleka fighters — responsible for torturing and murdering thousands of local residents. Global Witness requested that timber traders be held responsible as “accessories to the crimes of their protectors,” also blaming the UN for its inaction as it had evidence of such collaboration.

The investigation found that the wood exported by the major logging companies was illegal — harvested in violation of the country’s laws. European countries have largely contributed to this situation. The report, which quotes France's responsibility in the first place, then Germany's and Belgium's, showed that EU member states failed to enforce their anti-illegal logging regulations and kept working with the timber traders.

The French government even actively funded logging companies, “based on the flawed belief that they can sustainably manage the country’s tropical forests,” while illegal logging instead had a devastating impact on the forests and indigenous peoples depending on them.

[Reprinted from TeleSUR English.]

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