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Impunity and Corruption in the Fight against Timber Traffic

Madera intervenida en la Operación Amazonas, en Iquitos. Foto: Sunat.

Servindi, August 28, 2016.- A revealing interview published by the research portal Ojo-Público.com confirms the enormous power of the timber trafficking mafias in Peru and the controversial role played by forest authorities.

The interview was given by Rolando Navarro, former head of the Organismo de Supervisión de los Recursos Forestales y de Fauna Silvestre - OSINFOR (Supervisory Body of Forest Resources and Wildlife) who was unexpectedly removed from office for fulfilling his functions efficiently.

Navarro at the head of OSINFOR, with the National Superintendency of Tax Administration – SUNAT and the Public Ministry, led the Operación Amazonas (Operation Amazon), which was the largest seizure of illegal timber in Peru.

After his departure in early 2016 and after several months of receiving life threats, Navarro gave an interview to Nelly Luna, from Ojo-Publico.com, about the power of timber traffic mafias in the country and the questionable role of forest authorities.

The former head of OSINFOR notes that according to official information 96% of the wood seized by Operación Amazonas is of illegal origin.

He also recognizes that although many international cooperation funds have been allocated to address illegal logging, "illegality has not been reduced, on the contrary it has increased."

The former official stated that for years "it has been known that illegal timber is laundered with trafficked official documents and which legalize the product in the process”.

Navarro said that since entering OSINFOR 2012 found that the plot of illegality was based on false documents endorsed by consultants and staff; who despite being reported in September 2014 have not been punished yet.

“Moreover, there is a consultant who now has a higher position and oversees concessions. There is complete impunity with these consultants who signed false documents", according to Navarro.

He quotes the case of a consultant who signed more than 146 authorization certificates of irregular origin from Contama, Ucayali, and also allowed the transportation of 46 million board feet. He was only fined with 0.25 UIT (Peruvian Tax Unit). There is complete impunity with forestry consultants who sign false documents.

"The body that should support this process and who has always been against regulatory changes to strengthen forest control is The General Forestry and Wildlife Office (SERFOR in Spanish) and partly the Ministry of Environment. It is them who have always been opposed to strengthening OSINFOR" concludes Navarro.

When Nelly Moon asks: “Which sector of the Environment Ministry are you referring to?” Rolando Navarro replies: "To the Forests Program."

"I do not know if disability, inefficiency, corruption or sloppiness. But it stands out that many of these officials have more than 20 or 30 years in the industry and have been moving from one position to the other. They really know about the issue, but they do not want to support the reforms", Rolando Navarro concludes.

Access the interview and the full report by clicking the link below:

- http://ojo-- publico.com/290/ex-jefe-de-osinfor-denuncia-corrupcion-e-impunidad-detras-de-trafico-de-madera 

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