Gov’t sets up committee to probe illegal export of rosewood following expose by EIA

A committee has been set up by government to investigate Washington-based Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)’s Claim of Ghana’s continuous export of rosewood despite a ban.

Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Minister Kwaku Asomah Cheremeh who launched the committee at a press briefing said the publication of the report has caused some international partners to question the integrity of the country’s timber export trade.

The committee is headed by Benito Bio, the Deputy Lands Minister also includes Francis Manu Adabo and some Customs officers.

According to the investigative report, it was discovered that powerful Chinese and Ghanaian traffickers are still harvesting and shipping rosewood out of the country through “the help of ruling party members and complicity at all levels of government.”

“They have established an institutionalized scheme, fueled by bribes, to mask the illegal harvest, transport, export, and CITES [Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species]- licensing of the timber,” the report said.

Government has since March this year placed a ban on the harvesting, transportation, and export of rosewood.

However, the investigative report has exposed the alleged exportation which is a sharp contrast to the ban by the government.

EIA indicated that its investigators discovered that rosewood species were exported from the country to China as recently as June 18, 2019.

A statement issued to that effect accused senior officials of the Forestry Commission of being complicit in the illegal trade.

The statement said: “Traffickers told EIA investigators that officials from the Forestry Commission, at the local, regional and the national level are complicit of the scheme. A trafficker mentioned that [an official] of the Wildlife Division for the Forestry Commission and responsible for signing CITES export permits, even receives a percentage of the value of the rosewood exported.”

“Indeed, EIA also discovered a CITES permit for a rosewood shipment, signed by [the official], that was issued after the timber was unloaded in the Chinese port of Ningbo (Zhejiang Province), in flagrant violation of the international Convention,” the statement added.

“According to traffickers, bribes and even a ‘percentage of the sale’ paid to the official (name withheld) has allowed them to export illegally-sourced rosewood over the past years with CITES permits.”


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