UWA, Conservation Partners Engage Judicial Officers to Raise Profile of Wildlife Cases in Uganda

UWA, Conservation Partners Engage Judicial Officers to Raise Profile of Wildlife
Tuesday, 16 May, 2017
Entebbe, Uganda

African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) host workshop with Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to sensitize key judicial officials on the nature and extent of wildlife crimes in the country.

The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) in partnership with African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) today began a three-day Wildlife Judicial Symposium to sensitise judicial officers on the nature and extent of wildlife crimes in Uganda and enable them appreciate the role of Judicial Officers in adjudicating over wildlife crimes and to raise the profile of wildlife cases in Uganda. 

Twenty seven judicial officials including Justice of Court of Appeal, two judges of High Court and six Public Prosecutors are attending the symposium that is aimed at enlightening the judiciary on how wildlife crimes threaten the existence of many wildlife species in Uganda which in turn erodes the country’s resources and revenue potential.  Wildlife crimes threaten the existence of key wildlife species in Uganda, these crimes often result from interplay of a multitude of factors including social, cultural, economic and environmental and can involve a variety of sophisticated criminal actors and syndicates.

“Wildlife crime in Uganda has become very serious and it ranges from illegal killing of wild animals for meat and their trophies like ivory and pangolin scales for illicit trade and trafficking, to illegal possession of wildlife products. The encroachment and destruction of wildlife protected areas and other sensitive ecosystems is also on the increase and is compromising the environment and the quality of life for our society. Wildlife crimes have also been linked with other serious and organized crimes such as corruption, fraud, possession and illegal use of weapons, terrorism as well as money laundering. As an institution, UWA appeals to the judiciary and other stakeholders to support the efforts of fighting this serious crime that threatens conservation of our wildlife and the ecosystem and undermines the benefits derived from these resources by the present and future generations of this country and the global community. The Judiciary is at the tail end of the law enforcement process in the fight against wildlife crime and the decisions of judicial officers either make or break the entire wildlife crime fight efforts" Said Chemonges M. Sabilla, Deputy Director, Legal and Corporate Affairs at Uganda Wildlife Authority.

 Among other objectives of the training, is to sensitize the Judiciary on wildlife crimes to enable them acquire an in-depth understanding of relevant legal framework to apply and the technical elements of these crimes which will be significant in fighting this crime. 

“Even if the capacity to detect and investigate wildlife offences is high, the potential deterrent effects of prosecution will not be felt if Judicial Officers are not sensitized on the serious nature and widespread extent of these crimes.  Wildlife crimes involve sophisticated criminal actors and syndicates – local and international. Thus judicial officers are important actors in ensuring that Africa’s wildlife resource – species and habitats – is secured in the first place, by taming the escalating threat of poaching and trafficking; then we can apply these natural resources to the sustainable development agenda of our countries,” said Dr Philip Muruthi, Vice President of Species Conservation at African Wildlife Foundation

“The role of the judiciary in wildlife conservation in Uganda’s economy cannot be gainsaid. It has a central role in safeguarding wildlife and combatting wildlife crime in very much the same way it does other economic crimes. If meaningful strides are to be made, deterrence through hefty fines and custodial sentencing to the perpetrators of these crimes should be the norm rather than the exception. For wildlife crime to abate globally it will take the concerted efforts at source, transit and consuming countries and the involvement of the entire prosecution chain,” said James Isiche, Regional Director IFAW East Africa.

Uganda and neighbours - Kenya and Tanzania–were named in 2013 along with five other countries by CITES as playing a primary role in the illegal wildlife trade, whether as source, transit or demand countries for illegal wildlife products. Uganda serves as a major transit hub in the wildlife supply chain, with ivory and other wildlife products seized by authorities moving toward ports in Kenya and Tanzania. The CITES Standing Committee insisted that Uganda and the other “gang of eight” countries must develop clear targets for reducing trade in ivory and other wildlife products or face trade sanctions. Since then, Uganda has started to take key steps in order to curb poaching and trafficking of wildlife. With support from partners like AWF, UWA has already acquired a canine unit that is deployed at key transit points including the airport and borders.

AWF and IFAW have been working together to strengthen the law enforcement response to combat wildlife crime at the regional level by improving cooperation among African countries’ law enforcement, this is partly funded by the US Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

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About Uganda Wildlife Authority                                                                      

Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) was established in August 1996 by the Uganda Wildlife Statute, which merged the Uganda National parks and the Game department. It is governed by a Board of trustees appointed by the Minister responsible for wildlife. UWA’s mission is to conserve, economically develop and sustainably manage the wildlife and protected areas of Uganda in partnership with the neighboring communities and other stakeholders for the benefit of the people of Uganda and the global community. The Authority is mandated to ensure sustainable management of wildlife resources and supervise wildlife activities in Uganda both within and outside the protected areas. It manages 10 national parks, 12 wildlife reserves, 13 wildlife sanctuaries and 5 community wildlife areas. It is at the vanguard of prosecuting all wildlife crimes in the country with support from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution. www.ugandawildlife.org

About African Wildlife Foundation

The African Wildlife Foundation is the primary advocate for the protection of wildlife and wild lands as an essential part of a modern and prosperous Africa. Founded in 1961 to focus on Africa’s unique conservation needs, we articulate a uniquely African vision, bridge science and public policy and demonstrate the benefits of conservation to ensure the survival of the continent’s wildlife and wild lands. To learn more, please visit www.awf.org.

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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