Congo kicks out Global Witness activists who were investigating logging

by Reuters
Thursday, 14 July 2016 16:33 GMT

A Congolese park guard wanders through the wreckage of a recently destroyed section of Virunga National Park in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, in this file photo. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly

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Global Witness activists accused of inciting people living on the edge of a logging area to revolt

KINSHASA, July 14 (Reuters) - The Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday expelled two Global Witness activists who were investigating logging practices in its vast forests, the government said.

The Central African country accused the Global Witness employees of inciting a community living on the edge of a logging area to revolt, something the London-based NGO denied.

"Such behaviour ... would put this country in danger and, at the very least, (risk) the peace that is very valuable to us," Environment Minister Robert Bopolo said, announcing that he had told the two investigators - a Canadian and a German - to leave.

Last year, Global Witness reported that Congo's biggest logging companies were systematically and illegally plundering the Congo Basin, undermining efforts to protect the world's second largest rainforest.

In April Congo signed a $200 million deal with donors to tackle deforestation and reduce carbon emissions.

"The accusations levied against us are completely false," said Alexandra Pardal of Global Witness. "This was a routine mission ... to meet with communities living on the edge of logging sites in the region to find out whether the benefits promised by logging companies had materialised."

China accounts for two-thirds of Congo's timber exports, the Global Witness report last year found. (Reporting by Aaron Ross; writing by Tim Cocks; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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