The UN Security Council should:
· Immediately impose a total ban on Liberian timber exports it can be demonstrated that it does not play a role in regional destabilization and illicit arms trafficking
· Conduct detailed investigations into the timber industry, including individuals involved and the nature of specific companies such as The Oriental Timber Corporation (OTC) and the Royal Timber Corporation (RTC). This should include an audit on the Liberian timber industry itself
· Conduct detailed investigations into the involvement of any other Liberian industries that may contribute to violence and human rights violations in West Africa
The International Community should:
· Increase humanitarian aid to Liberia, channelled through UN agencies and NGO’s. The sanctions should target the Government, not the ordinary citizens of Liberia or the victims of regional conflict
· Provide support necessary to Cote d’Ivoire to better monitor its borders as significant amounts of Liberian timber is transhipped by road from Liberia to Cote d’Ivoire a significant portion of which goes unreported. Borders should also be monitored for the link it likely provides for arms transport coming from Burkina Faso via Cote d’Ivoire
· Provide support to local communities in Sierra Leone living close to the borders with Liberia. As the international community starts pulling out of Sierra Leone, it is essential that civil society are empowered to monitor activities along the border
· Ensure that groups such as the LURD rebels are not given further support by countries or individuals, by imposing an arms embargo on the Mano River Union and doing everything in its power to ensure that the LURD do not receive support from any states
The Government of Liberia should:
· Stop importing arms until such a time as the UN arms embargo has been lifted
· Ensure that the country’s timber industry is used for the benefit of the Liberian people, not against them
· Ensure that the country’s timber industry is run according to best international standards of sustainable forest management, and to ensure that all timber revenues due to the state are directed to the Central Bank of Liberia, and not to the Executive Mansion
· Ensure that timber companies operating in Liberia do so according to the law, that they do not employ armed militias and do not engage in any activities which contribute to conflict and human rights abuse
It remains both necessary and urgent that an immediate ban on the export of Liberian timber be imposed and that importing countries put any possible vested interests aside in order to bring active peace to the region. Thus far, the international community has left the door wide open for the arms trade, probably the key financier of conflict.
Violence in the Mano River Union cannot be halted without stopping the arms trade and the sources of revenue fuelling conflict. Given evidence gathered by both the expert panel on Liberia and Global Witness, it is evident that neither of these can be stopped while the Liberian timber industry is given platform to continue these activities.
The timber industry is not benefiting the Liberian people and timber related jobs are still few. Some of the main logging companies are in fact perpetrators of human rights abuses and actively involved in regional destabilisation. Those who benefit from the timber industry are a small elite, – many of which were included in the UN travel ban for their involvement in destabilisation.
This document details the direct links between Liberia’s timber industry and the network of illegal arms transfers, private militias, and human rights abuses that threaten international peace and security in western Africa. It also makes a clear case for the extension of sanctions against Liberia’s timber industry. The United Nations Security Council has worked diligently in the past to take action against the hostile forces of the Mano River region, both by cutting off funding sources such as ‘conflict diamonds’, and by imposing direct arms embargoes on the belligerent parties. Having made such progress, the Security Council must now address the other, significant source of funding for illicit arms transfers and regional destabilisation: Liberia’s conflict timber industry.
The Security Council, if it wishes to maintain the fragile peace that exists in the Mano River Union sub-region, must continue its diligence in closing the financial loopholes that allow for illegal arms transfers and continued violence. The United Nations has put tremendous effort and resources into creating the success that is UNAMSIL and the relative stability brought to Sierra Leone, and it should not allow Liberia’s conflict timber to undermine and endanger those achievements.
· Charles Taylor continues to buy arms illegally, with shipments reportedly coming through the Port of Buchanan, which is operated by the Oriental Timber Company (OTC). OTC was exposed by Global Witness and the Expert Panel Report of October 2001 as being heavily involved in facilitating arms transfers to the government of Liberia, in violation of Security Council Resolution 1343 (2001).
· Global Witness investigations have found that diamonds are still expoerted from Sierra Leone to Liberia via Zimi, Sierra Leone, to Borborhun in Liberia. A phone-call is made to the Executive Mansion. A helcopter is then sent to pick up the diamonds.
· Charles Taylor continues to employ ex-RUF forces, along with numerous other irregular private militias, in his battles against rebel movements in the northeast of the country. While many RUF combatants have demobilised, many of them, including young men and boys, are recruited into the ATU and private militias, to continue fighting in the northeast. Moreover, former RUF commanders continue to hold significant power over armed forces in Liberia.
· It is believed that two vessels delivered arms to Buchanan in January 2002. They were the MV Rubin on 15 January and the MV Dimitrios Nanios on 28 January 2002. These ships were offloaded by OTC expatriates only, contrary to the usual OTC practice of hiring casual Liberian labourers. Suspiciously, local residents were also prevented from entering the ship to buy cheap goods for resale, as is the norm.
· In October 2001, OTC personnel and members of the OTC private militia, which is under the command of a former NPFL colonel, reportedly went to deliver arms to government forces and were ambushed by rebel forces. A senior OTC employee was injured, with the former NPFL colonel and another senior government intelligence officer killed.
· OTC and other logging company militias have perpetrated numerous human rights abuses against local populations, harassing, intimidating, and even illegally arresting and detaining those considered to be a threat. These irregular militias have been implicated in numerous attacks and looting of civilian property, specifically the events in Kakata in April 2002.
· An analysis of logging industry employment clearly shows that the impact of a complete ban on Liberian timber exports would have little direct impact on the greater Liberian population. A thorough investigation has shown the industry employs only 3,726 Liberians, who comprise 68% of the labour force, along with 1,752 expatriate workers. The majority of well-paid logging jobs are given to expatriates, while the Liberian work force is made up of mostly unmarried ex-combatants, who have little job security, sign no official contracts, and the majority of whom are routinely dismissed during the rainy season with no guarantee of future employment.
· The revenue raised from timber exports is poorly accounted for, with millions of tax dollars going uncollected and millions more disappearing for use in extra-budgetary expenditures, including funding private militias, personal gain, and most likely illegal arms transfers.
· Traditional opposition to timber sanctions has come from France and China, both permanent members of the Security Council, and the two largest importers of Liberian conflict timber.
On 7 March 2001, The United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions on Liberia for its role in destabilising the region through its support of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone. A travel ban, an arms embargo and sanctions on diamonds were imposed in attempts to curb the link between Liberia’s government and regional conflict. Despite irrefutable evidence that the country’s logging industry was actively involved in arms and diamond trafficking between Sierra Leone and Liberia, no restrictions were placed on the industry. Timber companies were effectively given clearance to continue these activities. A review of the sanctions and Liberia’s compliance therein was scheduled for October 2001.
In the autumn of 2001, two reports were produced that highlighted the key role played by Liberia’s logging industry in regional conflict: Global Witness and ITF’s Taylor-made: The Pivotal Role of Liberia’s Forests and Flag of Convenience in Regional Conflict and the Expert Panel Report on Liberia. Several articles and reports have also addressed this issue. Still, no restrictions have been imposed and the timber industry continues to traffic arms unabated in 2002 (see The Role of the Logging Industry, page 7).
Given the strength of evidence that exists on these links, the question then became: why was the international community avoiding restrictions on timber? The two principle objectors to sanctions, France and China (also the main importers of Liberian timber) , stated that more proof was needed. This is despite hard facts being presented. Concern was also expressed over the possible humanitarian impacts of sanctions and an assessment was done by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and presented in the Secretary General’s Report.
The report was filled with grave errors and a large proportion of numbers presented were wrong. It stated, for example, that “a ban on timber exports would probably cause the loss of up to 10,000 relatively well-paid jobs” and that, taking into consideration the amount of dependants for each job, “a figure of 90,000 to 95,000 people losing their primary means of support” . However, at the time of the reports publication, only 4,233 Liberians were employed by the logging industry - the majority of whom did not have dependants.
Currently, the logging industry employs only 3,726 Liberians. Of the 2,398 employed by the Oriental Timber Company, 75% are laid off during the rainy season (from June to September). Most of the employees are ex-combatants (63%) and approximately 75% have no family responsibility (see The Possible Impacts of Timber Sanctions on Liberia, page 9).
Furthermore, escalated fighting between the Liberian government and LURD rebels in Liberia, together with the Liberian government’s flouting of sanctions and human rights abuses and questionable State of Emergency indicate that Liberia remains a strong and present threat to the region. Logging companies operating in Liberia are intrinsic to these violations and abuses. Sanctions on the Liberian logging industry remain both relevant and urgently necessary.
The Role of Liberia in Regional Destabilisation
Although peace has been declared in Sierra Leone, its peace is very fragile and regional destabilisation is a constant threat and mainly encouraged by the Liberian government. Several indicators point to the fact that Liberia still has a hand in regional destabilisation:
· A Liberian by the name of Sam Kolleh, a close associate of President Charles Taylor is now in Sierra Leone and has changed his same to Sam Koroma to appear Sierra Leonean. The DDR process did not mandate the return of RUF communications equipment. He has seized RUF communications equipment that was once operated in Boidu, Koindu and Kailahun, including satellite communication equipment. According to Global Witness sources, he is in direct communications with the Taylor government. He is residing in Kailahun. Several people in this region expressed great concern over his presence in Sierra Leone and his activities therein. They believed him to be a threat to Sierra Leone.
· Global Witness investigations showed that both the Liberian government and LURD dissidents are currently recruiting from within Sierra Leone. One Sam Kerfalla, also a close ally to President Charles Taylor has moved to Sierra Leone. There is great concern that he is currently recruiting people for Taylor from refugee camps. According to Global Witness investigations, he used to recruit people to fight for Taylor in refugee camps in Liberia.
· In reference to the new RUF-I – a splinter group of the original RUF, The Expert Panel report on Liberia states that “The main concern of the Panel is the continued presence in Liberia of hardcore elements of the RUF or RUF-I and its possible repercussions for the whole sub-region. The Panel remained cognizant, throughout its work, of its role and its responsibility in helping to end the suffering of the people of the sub region.”
· Citing weapons captured by the RUF, the Expert Panel reports states that “many such weapons have not returned and must therefore still be circulating in the region. They may be hidden in secret arms caches in Sierra Leone or may have been sold across the borders.”
· Of the 130 crossing points between Liberia and Sierra Leone, only 12 are controlled. They are only controlled during daylight hours.
The Role of the Logging Industry
Liberia’s timber industry has a history of being directly involved in the brutal conflict in Sierra Leone – from arranging logistics of illicit arms transfers to committing grave human rights abuses . Today, logging companies continue to be actively involved in arms trafficking, human rights abuses, and fighting alongside Charles Taylor’s government and personal security forces. The fact remains that countries buying timber from Liberia do business with people and companies proven to be involved in these activities.
According to Global Witness investigations, weapons are brought to Liberia mainly by ship. Most come in to Buchanan port, managed by OTC. As the Expert Panel report (1015) states, during their investigation “there were persistent reports of ships to Harper, Greenville, Buchanan and Monrovia unloading weapons.”
Several events over recent months have highlighted the problematic link between the Liberian logging industry and illicit arms trafficking:
· It is believed that two vessels delivered arms to Buchanan in January 2002. They were the MV Rubin on January 15 and MV Dimitrios Nanios on January 28, 2002. These vessels were offloaded by OTC expatriates only - contrary to the usual practice of hiring casual labourers for offloading cement and other goods brought in by the OTC. Local people were prevented from entering the vessel to buy cheap wares as is customary.
· In October 2001, OTC personnel including Mark Kushein, the company’s Resident Manager, and members of their militia under the command of a former NPFL colonel only known as Bassa Boy reportedly went to deliver arms to government forces and their militias fighting in Gbarpolu county in lower Lofa. They were ambushed and Mark Kushein was seriously wounded. Bassa Boy was killed along with a senior government intelligence officer, Emmett Ross .
· In late 2001 the Liberian government began constructing an airstrip about 10 km outside of Buchanan immediately behind the OTC headquarters at the LIMINCO Estate using OTC equipment and personnel. Although work on the airstrip was abandoned before completion, ordinary people resident in the estate confirmed that on a few occasions helicopters landed and took off from the airstrip while work was still going on. At the time they were interviewed, they could not say exactly what was delivered or taken away onboard these helicopters. Their flights, however, coincided with the arrival of the above-mentioned ships. The GOL has not made any public statement or given any explanation about the airstrip, but it is likely that it was intended to facilitate arms transfers to Monrovia from Buchanan.
The Role of Logging Company Militias
Since OTC’s arrival in Liberia, it has been in the forefront of the militarisation of the Liberian logging industry. Information obtained by Global Witness shows that logging company militiamen perpetuate a reign of terror on ordinary people. Personnel of the OTC militia harass and intimidate civilians as well as illegally arrest and detain those they considered a threat to their interests .
The Liberian government has now converted most of the OTC and other logging companies’ militias into its own militia force under the command of General Cocoo Dennis, an executive of the Salami Molawi Incorporated logging company (now known as the Mohammed Group of Companies ) and General Roland Duo, OTC chief of security.
Other former NPFL fighters, not enlisted into the national army but appointed to civilian posts-including Generals Melvin Sogbani and Siafa Normal, Col. Dexter Roberts, Adolphus Dolo ,-have all joined ranks with these militias. Ordinary people in Monrovia have constantly complained on local radio talk shows about the proliferation of non-uniformed armed men or militia forces in the country ; a situation yet to be addressed by the government.
Global Witness and ITF’s report, titled Taylor-Made: The Pivotal Role of Liberia’s Forests and Flag of Convenience in Regional Conflict, documented the dangers posed by logging companies’ militias to the peace and security of Liberia and the sub-region as well as the involvement of logging companies’ personnel in illegal arm deals. The current proliferation of irregular militias, financed mainly by timber revenue, which has now created a virtual state of instability in Liberia while posing a serious threat to sub-regional peace and security, is a confirmation of Global Witness’ information submitted last year. In most parts of the country it is extremely difficult, if not impossible to distinguish between the government militias and the logging companies’ militias.
The current state of insecurity in Liberia is not only due to the LURD rebel attacks but mostly to the lawlessness of militias originally organized by logging companies and now fighting alongside government forces. Eye-witnesses from areas that have allegedly come under attack confirm that massive looting by militiamen and the Liberian security forces are now commonplace.
Most of the residents of Kakata city and Morris’ Farm (on the outskirts of Kakata) reported an increase in the number of militiamen and the presence of General Cocoo Dennis on the eve of the attack on Kakata. As in other previous attacks on Tubmanburg, Klay Junction, Bongmines and Sawmill, Liberian militiamen and the Liberian government forces went on a looting spree immediately after the purported LURD rebels retreated from the Kakata. In Tubmanburg (Bomi County) government militias looted relief organizations’ assets including food and non-food items for the displaced, office equipment, motorcycles, generators, etc one day before the government announced that there had been an attack on the city. Interestingly, while these attacks and counterattacks were going on, some companies including the RTC, FAPCO and ULC were still operating in the northwest – trailers loaded with logs were still coming out of the conflict zone.
In Harper (Maryland County) where relative calm prevails, it is difficult to distinguish between Liberian military personnel and MWPI employees. The MWPI provides vehicles and fuel for military operations. ATU officers stationed in the city are constantly seen driving MWPI vehicles around the city while on patrols.
The Value of the Liberian Timber Trade (2001)
In late 2001, Liberian logging companies, especially OTC, intensified their operations. However, as is detailed in this report, the resultant revenue was neither translated into increased financing for the state nor into more jobs for Liberians. By comparing official logging revenue statistics, internal finance ministry memos and Global Witness’s own investigations, evidence exists to suggest that a large proportion of logging revenues are not officially declared, and instead are used by the government of Liberia to finance its extra-budgetary activities.
The Ministry of Finance officially reported total Liberian timber production for 2001 to be 815,078 m3, with only 557,314 m3 of both round longs and sawn timber reported as exports. The FOB value of the exported timber was reported to be USD60,273,000.00. The Ministry of Finance also officially stated that OTC/RTC produced 316,568 m3, which, when combined with Natura (approximate combined total of 357,795 m3), accounted for 64.2% of total official Liberian timber exports with an FOB value of USD38,661,000.00. The remaining 28 logging companies exported the balance.
These official figures contradict an internal Ministry of Finance memo, which reported that OTC exported 507,602.725 m3 of round logs, with an FOB value of USD47,249,529.78. Thus, 149,807.725 m3 of OTC round log exports, valued at approximately USD8,588,529.78, went unaccounted for within the corridors of the finance ministry. It is likely that the revenue from other logging companies has gone unaccounted for.
Official statistics also contradict Global Witness’s own investigations, which recorded total exports of 594,172.298 m3 of round logs and 9,788.798 m3 of sawn timber in 2001. Global Witness found that OTC alone exported 541,578.920 m3 of round logs in 2001, approximately 183,783.920 m3 more than the official Ministry of Finance figures and an FOB value difference of approximately USD10,536,397.04. Such huge discrepancies in export volumes begin to show the large amounts of revenue that should be included in the country’s general financing, but instead go missing, taken for personal gain or for other unaccountable, extra-budgetary purposes.
These export volumes, as determined by Global Witness investigations, would seem to indicate that the other 28 logging companies in Liberia only exported 52,593.378 m3 between them, and that OTC/RTC accounts for 91% of total exports. While OTC/RTC does constitute a significant majority of Liberian timber exports, these statistics reveal the extensive monitoring and documentation of OTC’s Port Buchanan shipments. There is likely much more exporting of timber occurring across land borders and via other ports, but—as noted in a recent report by DFID on the Liberian timber trade, the funnelling of timber through Côte d’Ivoire—the lack of transparency and difficulty in effectively monitoring shipments has slowed accurate data collection.
The Possible Impacts of Timber Sanctions on Liberia
An overwhelming percentage of the Liberian people continue to live in desperate conditions and abject poverty. The standard of living in rural Liberia continues to deteriorate under the present regime and the government’s indifference to their conditions leaves little room for hope. For most of these people, including timber in the current sanctions regime will make little difference, if any.
Since the last sanctions debate, several changes have taken place in the logging industry. The current state of insecurity in north-western Liberia has forced companies with concessions in the area to either slow down or cease their operations and lay off most of their workers whereas companies in the southeast continues to operate. The United Logging Company (ULC) and the Royal Timber Company (RTC) are the only two companies who have visibly redeployed personnel to their parent companies and have begun efforts to switch their operations to the southeast.
The logging industry currently employs 3,726 Liberians (68%), down from 4,233 last year and the number of expatriates has also dropped from 1,917 to 1,752 (32%). The entire logging industry now employs a total workforce of 5,478 – down by about 11% (see Table 1: Present Employment Capacity of the Logging Industry, page 12).
With the opening of the OTC plywood factory in Buchanan and the establishment of two new bush camps (employing/ redeploying RTC personnel) in Grand Gedeh county, the OTC have increased their workforce slightly. However, the amount of people employed in the plywood factory is a lot less than the 2,500 estimated last year. Approximately 1,050 boys and girls (including about 50 Malaysian girls) were recruited for the factory when it opened early this year.
The Oriental Timber Company presently employs about 2,398 Liberians in its entire operations. However, more than 75% of them are laid off during the peak of the rainy season from late June through late September. For those three months, no benefits or salaries are paid and there is no guarantee that an employee will automatically return to his/ her previous job when active operations begin in early October. Furthermore, about 95% of the Liberian employees have not signed any legal contract with the OTC management and no employment letters were served to them when they were hired. There is absolutely no job security for the majority of Liberians presently working at the OTC.
As indicated above, the majority of the OTC workforce comprise ex-combatants with no family responsibility. About 1,513 (63%) of Liberian employed at the OTC were confirmed to be ex-combatants while 862 (36%) were confirmed to be civilians. The status of the balance 23 (1%) could not be established. Of the 2,398 Liberians employed approximately 75% have no family responsibility.
National Impacts of Liberia’s Logging Industry
Most Liberians are opposed to the manner in which the timber industry is being managed by the Liberian government. However, due to fear of harassment and intimidation most Liberians now prefer not to criticize the government openly. A Liberian environmental and rights campaigner, recently braved the situation and summed up the concerns of most Liberians:” it is a simple and unchallenged fact, both in and out of Liberia, that this unprecedented increase in largely unsustainable logging operation has the propensity to wreak havoc on our environment, undermine our traditional, cultural and spiritual practices, entrench poverty in our communities, ultimately inflicting enormous economic and social damages upon our beloved country. The impact would be profound on rural people, who are at the ‘frontline’, the poor and the disadvantaged.”
He also criticized logging companies for their negative influences on the government and government officials and sent out an urgent appeal for the government to take steps,” to minimize the undue influence of logging companies on our politics and the rule of law”. He stressed that, “the present level of fear amongst environmentalists, conservationists and ordinary people is unhealthy and undermines efforts to promote an informed debate on logging in Liberia.”
The forceful relocation of villagers to make way for logging operations is a new and emerging factor that needs to be considered also. After several months of standoff between residents of Checkpoint (township) in Rivercess County, villagers were forcibly driven out of their homes in January 2002, with out any form of compensation, under the pretence that the FDA and the OTC were undertaking reforestation activities in the area. In spite of the fact that these people have lived in this area for generations and that the land belongs to them, the government sided with the OTC. Presently, the ULC is discussing the possible relocation of their logging activities to south-eastern Liberia, in the Putu Forest region . Locals in the Putu area have expressed strong opposition to the move and as yet a deal has not been struck.
It is the direct impact of the Liberian Logging industry on the destabilisation of the entire sub-region that requires the immediate action by the United Nations Security Council. The Liberian timber industry has been proven, both by the UN Expert Panel on Liberia and independent groups such as Global Witness, to be integrally involved in the illicit arms and diamond trading that threatens the stability in West Africa.
The danger this industry and its practitioners pose to regional peace and security is great, and the links between timber revenue and illegal arms dealing have been proven. Given its role in destabilising the region, and having shown that the industry actively exploits what few Liberians it employs, the UNSC should move to impose a full ban on all Liberian timber exports.
The ban should remain in place until such a time as proper transparency of its accounting and certification of its good demonstrates that, like the illicit diamond trade, conflict timber no longer fuels the wanton destruction of a people, a nation, and an entire region.
Table 1: Present Employment Capacity of the Logging Industry
Company MNE MNLE MNEE Totals
Group 1: smallest 6 companiesCestos Timber CompanyYekepa Logging IndustryForest Hill CorporationRivercess Logging CompanyAKKARI Timber IndustriesAWPC (American Wood)NELCO/ SIBCFAPCORETCOLLWPS/ WARCO 50 x 6 48 x 6 2 x 6 300
Group 2: medium size Xoanon Liberian Ltd.ILFCForum – LiberiaDaba Logging (DLWPC)LWMCCavalla Timber Corporation 150 x 2 145 x 2 5 x 2 300
Group 3: largest companiesOTC/ RTC et allMWPI/ ULCTTCOILCMGC (SMI)BIN – Liberia 3,078550400300300250 2,39820015025010050 68035025050200200 3,078550400300300250
Grand Totals - 3,726 1,752 5,478
MNE: Maximum number of Employees MNLE: Maximum number of Liberian Employees
MNEE: Maximum number of Expatriate Employee
-All the companies in bold have ceased operations
-All the companies in bold italics have reduced staff by more than ¾ and have redeployed the balance to their parent company
Table 2: Composition of the Workforce of Top Six Logging Companies
Company PEC NLE NEE CWF Remarks
% of L % of E
OTC/ RTC 3,078 2,398 680 77% 23% Expatriates mostly Ivoriens/ Malaysians
MWPI/ULC 550 200 350 36% 64% Ivoriens mainly at MWPI Harper operations
TTCO 400 150 250 38% 62% Expats mostly Ivoriens
ILC 300 250 50 83% 17% Mixed nationalities including Malaysians
SMI/MGC 300 100 200 33% 67% Expats mostly Ivorien drivers/ saw operators
BIN – Liberia 250 50 200 20% 80% Expats mostly Ivorien drivers/ saw operators
TOTALS 4,878 3,148 1,730 65% 35%
PEC: Present Employment Capacity NLE: Number of Liberian Employee
NEE: Number of Expatriate Employee CWF: Composition of Workforce
Table 3: Composition of Workforce for OTC/ RTC and Liberian Personnel Distribution
Number of Personnel Liberian Personnel Distribution
Liberians Expatriates Ex-combatants/militiamen Civilians
Managers/Executives 15 - -
Middle level managers 5 - 1 4
Personnel Officers 10 - unknown Unknown
Log Yard Supervisors 1 5 1
Log Yard Clerks 13 - unknown Unknown
Chainsaw Operators - 250
Heavy Duty Drivers 150 300 150
Computer Operators 20 5 20
Tree Finder/ Scouts 100 30 75 25
Logisticians - 5
Logistics Clerks 25 - 20 5
Radio Operators 16 - 16 -
Truck hands 400 - 150 250
Electrician/mechanicsApprentices -70 20- 70
Chief of SecuritySecurity/ militiamen 1200 -* 1200
Light Duty Drivers 60 - 50 10
Cooks/ handymen/ janitors 300 - 250 50
Medical Doctor 1 - 1
Hospital Administrator 1 - 1
Nurses (PA, RN, Dispenser, Lab Technicians, etc.) 25 - 25
Plywood factory 1000 50 750 250
TOTALS 2,398 680 1,513 (63%) 862 (36%)
NOTE: the balance 1% represents those our contact is not sure of
Environmental Impacts of Liberia’s Logging Industry
With the failure of the UNSC to impose sanctions on Liberian timber exports, which created a state of uncertainty in the industry, logging companies stepped up their operations ahead of this year’s debate. The OTC, for instance, has constructed two new bush camps in Grand Gedeh County. These camps are located in the uppermost tip of the Cestos-Seihnkwein forest and the western end of the Putu forest. These two areas are of high biological diversity and are considered ‘hotspots’ and a priority for conservation. These areas are the last sanctuary for most of Liberia’s endangered and protected wildlife, including the Black-and-White Colobus monkey (colobus polykomos), the Olive Colobus (procolobus verus), the giant forest hog (hylochoerus meinertzhageni ivorienis), the forest buffalo (syncerus caffer nanus), jentink’s duiker (cephalopus jentinki) etc.
The OTC has also constructed several new roads cutting across this region. One links Rivercess county directly to Nimba and the other runs from Rivercess to Grand Gedeh by-passing Sinoe county. Several other roads link various bush camps to Km 85, the transit centre for logs from the OTC bush camps. Another road is presently under construction and when finished will link Buchanan to Bong and Nimba counties through compound #3 in Grand Bassa.
Almost all of these logging roads are constructed through forest regions, some of which were proposed as National Forest Reserves or Parks. These roads have severely fragmented Liberia’s forest and further threaten its ecological integrity. It must be stressed that these roads are not for public transport. Commercial drivers do not venture off the Buchanan- Greenville highway as they would be stopped and redirected away from areas where OTC logging activities are ongoing.
The impact of logging on Liberia’s wildlife is now profound. Commercial hunting is now on the increase as the OTC opens up once remote forest regions, and there is a tremendous increase in the trade of bush meat. Commercial hunters have now moved into areas around Kploh and Moweh District (Rivercess), Zleh town (Grand Gedeh county) and other areas in Sinoe and Maryland counties.
However, locals do not benefit from this increase in hunting. In Buchanan, a limited quantity of bush meat is seen on the local markets and when available bush meats are extremely expensive – by local standards. In Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County, the superintendent Ruth Milton, last year imposed a unilateral ban on the trafficking of bush meat from the county to the Ivory Coast and Monrovia. She ordered the closure of hunting camps to allow for hunters to bring their kill to town instead of drying and selling them in the bush camps to business people. This was necessitated by the shortage of bush meat available on the Zwedru market.
Preliminary data available from various sources suggest a huge trade, with international dimensions, of Liberian bush meat. Presently Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and the U.S have been identified as destinations for Liberian meat. The Trans-Global Inc., an Import/ Export business house in Monrovia, is the main shipper of Liberian meat to the U. S. on behalf of individual business people while exports to Nigeria and Ghana are mainly smuggled through the Freeport of Monrovia.
Comments on the Secretary-General’s Report
Global Witness presentation to the United Nations Security Council
17 October 2001
The report titled “Taylor-Made” shows that there remains, after the impositions of UNSC 1343 (2001) a strong and active link between the timber industry, the arms trade and regional insecurity. In our supplement to this report, titled “The Real Price of Sanctions on Timber” we have complied information from Liberia to provide a assessment of the possible humanitarian impacts of sanctions on timber.
Revenue from the logging industry by and large does not benefit the country and its people, despite the significant propaganda put out in the past few months. In 2000 the Central Bank received approximately USD6.6 million in timber revenues, compared to around a minimum USD100 million that is unaccounted for. It is this revenue that is most likely to be used to support the RUF, arms purchases etc.
Points on Secretary General Report S/2001/939
It seems in all seriousness that this report is in part the result of PR work by the OTC. It does not stand up to scrutiny and a majority of the figures relating to the timber industry are inaccurate.
Section 3, paragraph 16
· The timber industry employs an estimated 10,000 people
Our figures, based on information coming from people working within the timber companies, show that the timber industry currently employs 6,150 of whom 1,197 are expatriates leaving 4,953 Liberian.
· The timber industry generated USD 50 million in 2,000.
Our figures show that it is worth 187 million, of which only an estimated 6.6 million went to the national budget.
· OTC has invested USD 100 million
This is what they stated they would invest in 1999. Their partly constructed plywood mill, which was due to be on stream in 2000, still had no equipment in it as of August this year. There is no evidence that OTC has invested USD 100 million.
· OTC employs 2,500 Liberians
OTC personal department figures show 1,733 Liberians. 75% of whom are laid off from late June to late September with no salaries or benefits paid or guarantee of employment. 95% of those who work for OTC do not have contracts.
82% of OTC’s workforce are paid less than 90 dollars a month, which although compares favourably with the civil servants salary is barely enough to sustain a family which means that other members in a given family will derive income from elsewhere.
Section A, paragraph 35
· The timber industry provides an estimated USD 10 million in salaries annually
Most of the workers are not paid for 4 months of the year
Given that the industry provides 6,150 jobs in Liberia, at an average salary 100 per month, gives approx. 5 million per year.
· 7.7 million in fees were derived by the government,
Only 6.6 million was declared by the Ministry of Finance.
· The Liberian government announced in Aug 2001 that 7.5 million USD in government timber revenues would be designated for rural development.
This was in response to local protest. There is no sign of the money having yet been spent. It is also important to remember that Charles Taylor has broken numerous peace agreements.
Talks about OTC’s Buchanan hospital
It is more expensive than the government hospital and in addition has attracted most of the staff from the local government hospital therefore effectively reducing affordable medical services to the local population.
· Timber firms construct and maintain roads in remotes areas of Liberia
These are the same roads that the UN expert Panel on Sierra Leone highlighted as being used for arms supply to the RUF.
Villagers are constantly complaining about the effects of logging roads – roads are sometimes built straight through villages and also through their crops.
We also have several reports coming in from villagers where logging companies have not fulfilled promises made, and left barren land behind them
OTC frequently destroy the bridges during the wet season to prevent public access to concession areas. During the cutting season, the bridges are guarded by armed logging company militias to prevent access.
The report notes that sanctions on the shipping registry would have limited effect in Liberia. We would endorse this as it is run by a US based company.
The logging industry has negative humanitarian impacts on the population. These include:
o Funding of conflict.
o Capital flight
o Liquidation of timber resources, perhaps within five years, when all timber related jobs will go. Result = long term poverty.
o Abuse of land rights
o Abuse of human rights of those who protest against the logging industry.
o Denial of forest resources to those who traditionally depend upon them.
o Timber companies political alliances subvert rights of people in favour of the ‘investors’.
o Ecological impacts on agriculture.
Finally, Global Witness’ advocates an increase in humanitarian aid to Liberia. It is imperative that sanctions place pressure on the decision makers who are benefiting from the timber industry and shipping register, and not upon ordinary people.
Monitoring Timber Sanctions
As is highlighted below, monitoring sanctions on Liberian timber should not be a problem and can be executed effectively. Global Witness has already been observing activity in the major ports in Liberia without difficulty and have also conducted investigations as to cross-border trade with Cote d'Ivoire. Although the focus of this document is on round log export, measures for monitoring sawn timber would be the same.
For the past five years, log production has increased annually by over 100%. In 1997 total production increased from 28,738.609 m3 in 1996 to 74,975.814 m3 in 1997 and by 1998 total production stood at 157,097.625 m3. Most of the logs produced in Liberia are exported as round logs. In 1999, of the 335,543.068 m3of round logs produced by the logging industry, 207,472.182 m3 were exported as round logs while a mere 299.425 m3 was exported as sawn timber.
Liberian round logs are mostly exported from Liberian seaports. In 1999 over 90% of total round log export (189,939.951 m3) was exported from Liberian Sea ports while 17,532.231 m3 of round logs was trans-shipped to Ivory Coast in the same year. By 2000, round log export had quadrupled to 606,282.886 m3with more than 98% being exported from Liberian seaports.
There are four seaports currently in operation and five major land routes for trans-shipment. The four seaports are the Freeport of Monrovia (Montserrado County), Buchanan port (Grand Bassa), Greenville port (Sinoe) and Harper port (Maryland). Also, from Harper some round logs are ferried to the Ivorien port of San Pedro before being transferred to ships for export to other countries.
Besides logs exported from Liberian seaports, round logs and sawn timber are also transported to the Ivory Coast for export through the port of San Pedro. These logs are transported on logging trucks and trailers through the land border points of Dulay, Butuo and Logatuo in Nimba County as well as Toe Town and BIN-Liberia in Grand Gedeh County.
Monitoring Log Export From Liberian Ports
Since March 2001, Global Witness has monitored log export from Monrovia, Buchanan, Greenville and Harper ports. Export figures and documentation are tracked through various means within the government agencies responsible for compiling the export figures and records. Export figures and documents available to GW have been counter-checked with other sources.
Harper Port: Located in Maryland County, south-eastern Liberia the port is managed by Hussein Fawaz, the resident manager of the Maryland Wood Processing Industries (MWPI). The MWPI and Togba Timber Company (TTCO) are the two companies that export round logs from Harper Port. Only one vessel can dock at a time because of limited space and loading capacity. Loading of logs is done throughout the day and sometimes into the night depending on the workload. Because the port is located in the town, news of the arrival of a vessel spreads as soon as it docks. In 1999, 34,960.440 m3, 18% of total round log export from Liberian ports, was handled by Harper Port. Monitoring can be carried out by two persons with one serving as an alternate.
Greenville Port: The port of Greenville (Sinoe) also in south-eastern Liberia is managed by Maurice and Oscar Cooper of the Inland Logging Company (ILC). Companies exporting round logs from Harper are the ILC, Carlton Resource Incorporated and Rivercess Logging Company. Like Harper, only one vessel can dock at a time because of limited space and loading. A total of 56,451.037 m3, about 30% of total round log export, was exported through Greenville. One monitor and an alternate monitor can effectively monitor the port.
Buchanan Port: Buchanan port is managed by the Oriental Timber Company (OTC). Unlike Harper and Greenville ports, the OTC has equipped the port of Buchanan with modern loading equipment providing for the loading of two to three vessels simultaneously. Electricity is available 24-hours and often loading activities continue into the night. Round log export from Buchanan was the least in 1999 totalling only 29,140.285 m3, approximately 15% of total export but soared to about 50% in 2000. Considering the OTC operating capacity, round log export in 2001 is expected to increase to upwards of 60%. However, like the other ports, news of the arrival of a vessel spreads easily and swiftly. The movements of individuals into and out of the port are at times restricted by the OTC by mounting checkpoints manned by armed security guards. Two monitors and an alternate are required to keep surveillance throughout the day and at night.
Freeport of Monrovia: the port of Monrovia, located outside the capital is the busiest seaport in Liberia and is used by the business community, NGOs, logging companies, etc. The port is used for the import of consumer and other goods, and for the export of round logs, rubber, metal scraps, etc. The port traditionally handled the highest percentage of round log export before the emergence of the OTC in Buchanan. In 1999, the Freeport of Monrovia handled 67,388.189 m3, approximately 34% of round log export. Although the percentage of log export from Monrovia went down in 2000 and is expected to further decline in 2001, quantity of logs exported is expected to increase slightly. Three monitors are required to keep a 24-hour surveillance.
Monitoring Round Log Export and Trans-shipment via Ivory Coast
All Liberian round logs transported to Ivory Coast from Dulay, Logatuo and Butuo crossing points go through Danane (Ivory Coast) while the ones going through Toe Town and BIN-Liberia pass through Toulepleu. Round logs are also ferried from Harper to San Pedro for transfer to other vessels for onward shipment.
Although the Liberian border with the Ivory Coast is porous, log transport by road can be easily monitored using monitors in Danane and Toulepleu inside the Ivory Coast or at the crossing points mentioned above, while log ferrying from Harper to San Pedro is handled by the Harper port monitor. The monitors to be positioned in Danane and Toulepleu could be hired from within the Liberian communities in these towns, as they are knowledgeable about the various routes used by the logging companies.
An alternative could be requesting the Ivorien authorities to enforce the ban. However, their enforcement of the UN travel ban has not been particularly impressive. Additionally, the Ivorien government's apparent failure or reluctance to enforce it's own ban on round logs from Liberia begs the question as to whether they would enforce or monitor a violation of the round log ban.
Monitoring a timber ban on Liberia can be carried out effectively, without serious logistical constraints, using contracted and independent monitors at the various ports and transit towns.
Press Release / May 3, 2002