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Group demands prosecution of rosewood smuggling suspect

Baobab Market, a group of civil society organisations in the Northern Region, has called for swift prosecution of the Chinese national arrested for illegally transporting rosewood in the region to deter others from the practice.

Baobab Market has also called on the government to investigate and identify the collaborators of the Chinese national and bring all of them to justice to deter others from doing same in the future.

This was contained in a press statement read at a press conference organised by the Baobab Market in Tamale on Wednesday to react to the arrest in Tamale of a Chinese national for illegally transporting two truckloads of rosewood.

The statement was signed by Mr Osman Abdel Rahman, Convener, Baobab Market and Executive Director of Ghana Developing Communities Association, and Mr Sumani Mohammed Awal, Secretary, Baobab Market and Executive Director of Centre for Active Learning and Integrated Development.

It will be recalled that the Northern Regional Police Command on Tuesday held a press conference in Tamale where they announced the arrest in Tamale on May 05, of one Miss Helena Huang, a Chinese national for illegally transporting four 20-footer containers, fully loaded with rosewood from the Northern Region heading to Tema.

According to the Police, Ms Huang confirmed ownership of the rosewood, but preliminary investigations indicated that she did not have documentations including log measurement, conveyance certificate and lumber inspection certificate to prove legality of the rosewood being transported.

The statement said “We wish to state that the Baobab Market will closely monitor developments of Ms Helena Haung’s issue as it unfolds within the legal confines of the country.”

It expressed regret about the continued felling of rosewood in the country saying “We find it very worrying that despite the ban on the cutting, harvesting, transportation and export of rosewood, some unscrupulous people and companies are still bent on further endangering the tree with impunity.”

Rosewood is one of the tree species found in the middle belt and northern parts of the country, and it is listed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) as an endangered species” as it takes 50-100 years to mature.

In March, this year, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources issued a directive to the Forestry Commission placing a ban on the activities such as the transportation, conveyance as well as the exportation of rosewood in the country.

The statement said “Harvesting of rosewood under the disguise of ‘salvage permits’ is greatly destroying the already fragile savannah ecological zone”.

It commended the Ghana Police Service for their great effort in enforcing the ban on rosewood and further demanded that “The Government of Ghana through Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Forestry Commission, Ghana Police Service and other law enforcement agencies to step up efforts towards enforcing the ban on harvesting and export of rosewood”.

It called on the government to ensure that “This ban is not lifted again as we have seen in the past. The harvesting and export of rosewood has been banned severally in the past by the Government of Ghana, for instance in 2012 and 2014 but the ban on each occasion was lifted few months afterwards”.

It called on traditional authorities, community members and other concerned citizens to join the fight against the illegal felling and exportation of rosewood, and any other protected tree species in their communities.

Source: GNA

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