In a dramatic U-turn, the Peruvian government yesterday published a decree that restores the independence of OSINFOR, the agency in charge of inspecting and sanctioning illegal logging crimes in the Peruvian Amazon. This comes just a few months after its independence had been seriously undermined by placing it under ministerial control.
the last decade, OSINFOR has worked under the Presidency of the Council of
Ministers, and has been the only state agency effectively combatting the
rampant trade in illegal timber. Its independence, guaranteed by a US-Peru
Trade Promotion Agreement that entered into force in 2009, was crucial to its
a result of its work, it faced a fierce backlash from the timber sector, which
for years tried to weaken it. Then,
in December 2018, without being consulted or informed, OSINFOR was placed under
the Ministry of the Environment, a move that weakened its independence and
which compromised its ability to carry out its work free of undue political
influence. This led to the resignation of its director in protest.
January 2019, Global Witness published the report The
where we revealed continuing widespread and systematic illegal logging in Peru
that contributes to the ongoing degradation of the country’s climate-critical
forests. In recognition of the critical role OSINFOR plays in tackling this
persistent problem, we made an urgent call to restore its independence. We also
issued a joint
with other fellow civil society organisations, expressing concern about OSINFOR’s
move, and urging the government to reverse it.
move also triggered the US Trade Representative to launch the first
consultation under the US-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement to ascertain whether
the agreement had been breached.
Yesterday, almost four months later, the Peruvian government has finally backed down and restored OSINFOR’s independence. This is a promising step in addressing illegal logging in Peru, but much more remains to be done.
Now that OSINFOR’s independence has been restored, it is imperative that its powers are expanded so it can tackle new and emerging forms of illegal logging that currently fall outside its mandate. This means giving it powers to inspect and sanction timber harvest areas it currently is unable to inspect or sanction, and giving it powers to inspect the sawmills that drive much of the demand for illegal timber.
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