Greenpeace wants to hold those involved in illegal logging contracts in the Democratic Republic of Congo accountable. The environmental defense NGO thus announced that it had asked Congolese justice on Thursday to investigate accusations of illegal allocation of forest concessions between 2014 and 2020 by six former environment ministers.

“In view of the extremely serious facts which are exposed in the report of the General Inspectorate of Finance (IGF), we have asked the public prosecutor at the Court of Cassation to open a judicial investigation,” Irène told AFP. Wabiwa, from Greenpeace Africa. The NGO thus intends “to obtain the lifting of the immunities of those who are in Parliament”, “to establish the responsibilities of all those involved in these illegal allocations of forest concessions” and “to punish the culprits”, she added.

Six former ministers in the sights of the NGO

Greenpeace Africa and five other organizations named Ministers Robert Bopolo, Bienvenu Liyota, Athys Kabongo, Franck Mwedi Malila, Amy Ambatobe and Claude Nyamugabo who succeeded each other at the head of the Ministry of the Environment from 2014 to 2020. These six former Ministers are accused of having granted in “culpable laxity” forest concessions in violation of Congolese laws and the moratorium on the granting of new concessions in force since 2002.

In October, before COP26 in Glasgow, President Félix Tshisekedi said he had been seized of “several complaints of irregularities” in the granting of forest concessions and ordered the suspension of any “doubtful” contract.

In its report, the IGF accuses the six ministers of not having launched calls for tenders, resorting to the procedure by mutual agreement in the award of these disputed contracts. These ministers also issued these permits in “the absence of a deposit” and with “deliberate favouritism”, according to this report.

“It is high time for impunity to end”

At the end of April, Congolese Minister of the Environment Ève Bazaïba had suspended 12 illegal forestry contracts pinpointed in the IGF report. In December 2021, it had suspended six contracts considered to be illegally granted. “It is high time for impunity to cease to be the norm so that those responsible for all these crimes are held accountable for their actions before the courts,” insisted Irène Wabiwa.

The DRC is home to the second largest tropical forest in the world after Brazil, representing an important carbon reservoir and biodiversity of global importance.

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