Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 December 2011
A statement received by the Sierra Leone Telegraph from Jonathan Ossoff – Senior Legislative Assistant in the Office of Congressman Hank Johnson, says that; “U.S. Representative Hank Johnson and colleagues are disturbed by reports of high-level corruption in partner country.”
This is what the statement says:
Eighteen members of the U.S. Congress today wrote U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging that the United States insist on a full investigation of credible reports, that senior Sierra Leonean officials offered permission to conduct illegal and destructive logging operations in exchange for bribes.
In their letter to Hillary Clinton, U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Ranking Member Donald Payne, and 16 colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives asked that Secretary Clinton push the Government of Sierra Leone to launch a full and transparent investigation.
They also requested that the Department of State report to Congress with information regarding the progress of the Sierra Leonean investigation.
A recent report aired by Al Jazeera English, “Africa Investigates – Sierra Leone: Timber!,” showed footage of individuals claiming to act on behalf of Sierra Leonean Vice President Samuel Sam-Sumana soliciting bribes in exchange for permission to conduct illegal and destructive logging operations, although permitted logging was suspended.
The Government of Sierra Leone initially said it would launch an inquiry through its Anti-Corruption Commission and domestic law enforcement, but there has been little visible progress.
“These reports are very disturbing,” said Johnson. “Our relationship with Sierra Leone requires faith in the integrity of its leadership.”
A 2006 European Union report identified illegal logging as the leading cause of environmental degradation in Sierra Leone, and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 2010 Global Forest Resources Assessment reported that Sierra Leone lost old-growth forest at a rate of 3.21% per year — the fifth fastest rate of old-growth forest loss in the world.
Members of Congress who signed the letter are:
Rep. Hank Johnson,
Rep. Donald Payne
Rep. Barbara Lee
Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.
Rep. Maxine Waters
Rep. Yvette Clarke
Rep. Charles Rangel
Rep. Earl Blumenauer
Rep. Frederica Wilson
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee
Rep. Raúl Grijalva
Rep. Keith Ellison
Rep. Jan Schakowsky
Rep. James Moran
Rep. Russ Carnahan
Rep. James McGovern
Rep. Peter DeFazio
Rep. Betty McCollum
Rep. John Lewis.