Malaysia: Forestry dept awaiting A-G’s nod to prosecute over 100 illegal logging cases

SHARON LING The Star 24 Feb 16;

KUCHING: The Forestry Department here is awaiting the Attorney-General’s go ahead to prosecute over 100 illegal logging cases.

State Forestry director Sapuan Ahmad said the department was awaiting instructions from the federal level before it could take the cases to court.

"As far as the department is concerned, we have completed our investigations into the cases, but they have to be evaluated and processed by the federal side.

"This can be speeded up once the power to prosecute rests with the state. Once this power is given to Sarawak, more cases can be mentioned in court," he told reporters after opening a Sarawak Heart of Borneo (HoB) workshop for government agencies here yesterday.

Prosecuting power is one of several administrative empowerment measures recently agreed to between the Federal and state governments.

Under this measure, state legal officers will be authorised to prosecute cases for offences under state ordinances.

Sapuan said illegal logging had slowed down since the state government's crackdown began in 2014.

He said some 47,000 cubic metres of illegal logs were seized last year compared to 90,000 cubic metres the previous year.

In his speech earlier, Sapuan said timber licence areas within the Heart of Borneo must be certified for sustainable forest management by 2017.

HoB covers about 20 million hectares of contiguous tropical forest in Borneo, including two million hectares in Sarawak.

The programme aims to enhance conservation and sustainable development while minimising forest degradation and its associated loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

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