The international conservation organization Space for Giants has been working closely with national judicial authorities and court monitors over the years to develop strong national wildlife legal frameworks and translate those laws into practical application by part of those who work in national judicial systems.
The East African Association of Prosecutors (EAAP) represents 12 national judicial authorities in East, Central and Southern Africa responsible for criminal prosecutions, including wildlife crime.
Over the next several years, Space for Giants will deepen our partnership and focus on strengthening national capacity and regional cooperation to “follow the money” and prosecute cross-border wildlife crime in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan. . This critical work has been made possible by a three-year grant from the UK Government’s Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund. This builds on our critical justice system work that we have been doing across the continent.
The illegal wildlife trade, estimated to be worth more than $23 billion annually, poses a major security challenge around the world and intersects with other transnational organized criminal activities such as drug, arms and human trafficking. Combined with weak or fragmented law enforcement efforts, the illegal wildlife trade flourishes, pushing many endangered species toward extinction and destabilizing regional security.
In underfunded and overburdened court systems, it is challenging but crucial to track cases to improve the prosecution of wildlife crime. Since 2013 Space for Giants, EAAP. the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), TRAFFIC and AWF have trained more than 1,000 prosecutors, investigators and judicial officers. Training forums help foster regional collaboration and cross-border prosecutions. At the same time, we aim to harmonize laws to facilitate mutual legal assistance and asset recovery throughout the East African region.
By working hand-in-hand with EAAP in Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan and Rwanda over the next three years, we will be able to continue to train and mentor more than 1,800 prosecutors to pursue more cross-border wildlife crime. Wildlife populations in all four countries are often migratory, moving across landscapes without regard to national borders. When the laws of a country are not compatible with regional legal frameworks, court cases are difficult to prosecute.
Prosecutor training not only strengthens the justice system as a whole, but also helps build trust in the courts and in the rule of law for citizens.
Training those who work within the national justice chain, from crime scene investigators to magistrates, not only strengthens the justice system as a whole, but also helps build trust in the courts and confidence in the rule of law. . When the justice system can function effectively and transparently, wildlife crime is detected, disrupted and ultimately deterred. This, in turn, increases stability and security for all and creates the conditions for positive and sustained socio-economic development.
Now more than ever, we must come together to disrupt the chains of illegal wildlife trade and create the systemic change that is essential to deter wildlife crime and prevent biodiversity loss.
Read more about Katto Wambua here
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.