Despite sanctions towards Myanmar: human rights towards luxurious wooden | EUROtoday

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As of: March 1, 2024 12:02 a.m

After the navy coup in Myanmar, the EU selected sanctions. Nevertheless, wooden value 45 million euros has since arrived within the EU. Now voices are being raised about infringement proceedings.

By Petra Blum, WDR, and Marcus Engert and Benedikt Strunz, NDR

The state of affairs is absurd: the EU bans one thing – after which gives statistics wherein everybody who doesn’t adjust to the ban is entered. This is precisely how issues have been going for greater than two years with a product that really solely the super-rich are inquisitive about: wild-grown teak wooden.

An worldwide analysis led by the International Consortium for Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in Germany NDR, WDR and “Süddeutsche Zeitung” (SZ) had been concerned, exhibits: The banned items proceed to finish up within the EU.

Since the sanctions got here into pressure in June 2021, greater than 550 tons of wooden from Myanmar have formally entered the EU – and in return, greater than 45 million euros have flowed to the navy regime in Myanmar. This emerges from information from the European statistics authority EUROSTAT, which was evaluated for the analysis.

Wood imports value hundreds of thousands

Between January and October 2023 alone, the statistics present wooden imports from Myanmar value 5.6 million euros. The largest portions arrived in Italy, Poland and Spain. When requested, customs stated that “a small amount of teak from Myanmar” had additionally reached Germany final 12 months, however that it was a pattern. Customs didn’t say what it was supposed for or whether or not the wooden was confiscated.

A 12 months in the past, a worldwide analysis mission uncovered the huge breach of sanctions. At that point, the EU Commission said that it was in an “active dialogue” with EU international locations that had “difficulties implementing” the sanctions. But apparently the sanctions proceed to be damaged on an enormous scale with out the EU intervening.

Last pure occurrences in Myanmar

Unlike plantation teak, wild-grown teak is taken into account extraordinarily immune to salt water, solar and wind. It is due to this fact principally put in on luxurious yachts. But wild teak deposits are thought of exhausted. The final pure deposits can solely be present in Myanmar.

However, the state has a monopoly on the commerce in wooden in Myanmar – and with it a navy junta, which after the 2021 coup is accused of probably the most critical human rights violations, torture, arbitrary detentions, expulsions, executions and, final however not least, the genocide towards the Rohingya. That is why the EU imposed sanctions in June 2021, together with on commerce in wooden from Myanmar.

EU accepts duty Member States

This signifies that no timber deliveries from the previous Burma ought to truly seem within the EU's commerce statistics – however they do. The EU Commission left questions concerning the analysis outcomes unanswered, however has up to now all the time identified that the member states are accountable for implementing adopted tips.

For Bernd Lange, for the SPD within the European Parliament and chairman of the Trade Committee, that isn’t sufficient. “If you can prove that European legislation has been disregarded, then of course the Commission should investigate,” he says.

“If there really are individual countries that are deliberately turning a blind eye, then you have to take action against it with an investigation process or even a breach of contract lawsuit.”

MEPs demand authorized penalties

Thomas Waitz, himself a forester and a member of the Green Party within the European Parliament, additionally calls for that, given the continuing imports from Myanmar for years, the EU should now provoke infringement proceedings towards these states that don’t cease these deliveries.

Both Lange and Waitz additionally consider that the EU must tighten up the formulation of sanctions. Because: It shouldn’t be the product of wooden from Myanmar that’s banned – however “only” cooperation with the state timber buying and selling company MTE. Since the MTE has a monopoly on deforestation and the export of wooden in Myanmar, the EU Commission assumes that each one wooden imports are additionally topic to the sanctions.

Paradoxically, some member states apparently see issues otherwise. And even in Germany, the authorities have totally different opinions about what the sanctions truly imply. The Ministry of Agriculture replied that beneath the present EU sanctions it was “inadmissible to import raw and sawn wood from Myanmar.” At the identical time, a customs spokeswoman explains {that a} “general ban on the import of wood (…) is not regulated under embargo law.”

Logo deforestation inc

To the mission

The #deforestationinc analysis mission was led by the International Consortium for Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). 140 journalists from everywhere in the world had been concerned within the nine-month analysis.

The 39 media shops concerned within the analysis are in Germany NDR, WDR, “Süddeutsche Zeitung” and “Spiegel”. Internationally, CBC in Canada, ORF in Austria, “Le Monde” and “Radio France” in France and “The Indian Express” in India had been amongst these concerned.

The mission focuses on the continuing deforestation worldwide and focuses, amongst different issues, on the questionable commerce in sustainability certificates, on the unlawful commerce in treasured wooden and on the Romanian timber mafia. All analysis outcomes are revealed internationally.