17 May 2012

Corruption on high: Journalistic freedoms squashed to protect lucrative illegal logging

A disturbing series of stories have been coming out of Madagascar about the crack-down on journalists and the erosion of free press. This is ironic because, as a former DJ and television station owner, Rajoelina stirred dissent against the former government for just this sort of behavior. Only this time, it is for investigating illegal logging, which happens to have ties to this government.

Africa Review - Madagascar court orders radio station sealed off:
A court in Madagascar has ordered the sealing off of the main access road leading to a media house that aired a story on the illegal trafficking of precious woods allegedly by a billionaire chum of President Andry Rajoelina.
Not only are they arresting journalists and shutting down stations, they are also going after the investigators themselves, having fired the Environment and Forest minister over the story:
The sacked man made headlines when he alleged at a press conference that a young billionaire, who is a close ally of President Andry Rajoelina, was behind the illegal trafficking of precious woods in Madagascar.
Even this article has to suppress the name of the logger to not get thrown in jail....I recommend reading the whole, short piece.

This government, and Rajoelina himself have been tied to the illegal logging going back 2 years. Here is a video from 2 years ago of some investigatory work that was recently expanded for a BBC special called Lemurs and Spies (article about Rajoelina and logging here).

How can you do conservation work with so much corruption up to the highest leves possible? Seems like an impossible situation.