Press Release / July 13, 2001

Global Witness takes up its position as the Independent Observer of the forest sector in Cameroon

The appointment of an independent observer is a sign of progress towards greater transparency but the road is long and there is much work to be done before we can congratulate ourselves on having done a good job.

The current 6 month transition phase of the project should lead to the establishment of a long term programme of support for forest sector control. This should not be a permanent project but as the situation with regard to transparency and good governance within the sector and the control institutions within the Ministry build their own capacity and also the monitoring capacity within civil society, the project should be reduced in scale. An important aspect of the project is that it should also strengthen the capacity of the NGOs and civil society in Cameroon, to enable them to actively contribute to the control of illegal activities and implementing the forestry laws.

The commitment of the Minister to widely distribute the results of control missions on a simple seven day request basis is much welcomed and should lead to increased efficiency of the Ministries forestry control functions. Those companies identified of breaking Cameroonian Law will be regularly identified and sanctioned. As there is a transition phase for this project towards full implementation, there should also be a transition phase in the forest sector from anarchic exploitation to respect for the norms of forestry law in Cameroon.

We look forward to establishing working relationships with the private sector and all other stakeholders to achieve these aims. We have already met a number of company representatives during previous missions and on this phase of the project with positive results. Links with civil society, including local NGOs will also be consolidated and form an important part of the project.

The full terms of reference, and all subsequent reports resulting from the project can be found at the Global Witness Web Site: Reports of earlier missions will be posted soon.

Global Witness would like to take this opportunity to thank the Minister for his support to this project and for his appointment of Global Witness to the role of Independent Observer of the forest sector in Cameroon.