Following a complaint filed by Greenpeace against Dutch timber importer, Fibois BV, for involvement with questionable timber from Cameroon, a Dutch administrative court has upheld a 2016 Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) injunction against Fibois for non-compliance with the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR). Fibois BV was also declared negligent and not complying with EUTR in its transaction with Cameroonian firm, Compagnie de Commerce et de Transport (CCT), in a court ruling last Saturday, 24 June.
The court upheld a decision by NVWA to penalize Fibois by putting her timber products on a watchlist. Should they not comply with regulation, the timber importer will pay a fine of € 1 800 for every cubic meter of wood and / or wood products with a maximum of €90 000.
Greenpeace has followed the logging activities of CCT for many years and exposed illegal practices plaguing the forestry sector in Cameroon in 2016 . However, the Cameroonian Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, Ngole Philip Ngwese, reacted to the Greenpeace report with a media offensive. In articles published in several Cameroonian newspapers, the Minister claimed the information in the report was false and that the activities of all timber suppliers to CCT that were cited in the report were fully in compliance with the Cameroonian forestry laws. The courts have spoken contrary to the Minister.
“Greenpeace is vindicated by the court ruling against Fibois BV by the Dutch Competent Authority. It shows that the court stood by our meticulous report,” said Eric Ini, Greenpeace Africa’s Forest Campaigner. “This ruling is a clear call to the Cameroonian Minister Ngwese to instil the rule of law in the Cameroon forestry sector and sanction the likes of CCT accordingly,” added Ini.
CCT has been supplying azombé timber from questionable sources in Cameroon to Fibois BV. Despite NVWA warning in March 2015 and conditional penalty in 2016 to Fibios BV, CCT and the Cameroonian Forestry and Wildlife Ministry remained indifferent to concerns from the international market. CCT is trading timber sourced from highly destructive logging operations, several of which were exposed to be involved in illegal logging according to a Greenpeace report published in 2015. Greenpeace traced the timber from CCT to many importers in Europe, including Fibois BV in Purmerend in the Netherlands.
“The Dutch court ruling against Fibios highlights lapses in credibility and control in supply chains that the Cameroonian government can no longer afford to ignore. We hope Forestry and Wildlife Ministry officials in Cameroon will implement laws to bring sanity around the forestry sector,” concluded Ini.