Campaign for Justice (C4J) is delighted that finally, the appointed Commission of Enquiry (COI) into illegal loggings – appointed earlier this year has completed and submitted its report to the Minister of Justice, Esmon Saimon.
According to the front page article of Daily Post recently, the Minister has promised to table the COI report in the current ordinary sitting of parliament.
We would urge the Minister to go a step further. While tabling the report is good - without further decisive action against those who may have been found to be flouting the country’s logging legislations with impunity, this report will mean nothing. We firmly of the view it would be highly counter-productive and hypocritical of the Government of the day if nothing further was done about this report, other than tabling it in parliament.
From parliament debates last week, C4J is aware that extra financial resources have had to be allocated and passed by the national parliament through the Supplementary Appropriation Bill, in order to meet the expectations of the Commission of Inquiry, and for the COI team to properly conclude its report.
As such it would be a real waste of national resources if the COI report was left in the shelves to collect dust like all the rest of the previous COI reports.
The Government would do a great service to the nation if leaders showed grit and determination by instigating criminal proceedings against the culprits of illegal logging if the report findings are conclusive.
According to the media report, the COI team did manage to interview 72 people from Port Vila, Malekula and Santo and took more than three months to conclude its report.
C4J looks with the greatest interest to see how the Government will deal with the COI report from hereon.