Giants Club helps lock up Ugandan poachers

Fulfilling pledges promised at the Giants Club Summit, conservationists work with the UN and Ugandan officials to develop legal guidelines to strengthen poaching prosecutions

Daisy Fletcher
Monday 01 August 2016 12:06 BST

The Giants Club has launched a new legal guide to help ensure those who commit wildlife crimes in Uganda are more effectively punished.

The guidelines were drawn up last week in Entebbe in collaboration with the UN Office of Drugs and Crime, the Uganda Wildlife Authority, Interpol and the Ugandan Ministry of Tourism.

The discussions were led by the Giants Club’s Director of Legal Strategy, Shamini Jayanathan, who spent a week with the officials ensuring the implementation of a robust new approach to those who trade in illegal animal parts.

“This will be a practitioners guide for those involved in prosecuting wildlife crime; a tool that will provide 'at a glance' guidance to the relevant law, evidential and procedural considerations along with sample charges for all relevant offences,” said Ms Jayanathan.

Reduce wildlife crime

The new guide will ensure that in future those who poach elephants, and other illegal wildlife for profit, are more effectively dealt with by the country’s legal system.

This meeting was organised to enact President Museveni’s pledge at the Giants Club Summit in April, where he pledged to strengthen Uganda’s wildlife crime prosecution framework.

The Giants Club-led initiative was welcomed by local officials.

“It will undoubtedly quicken prosecution in wildlife cases and therefore reduce the level of crimes against wildlife and the environment,” said Akankwasah Barirega, Commissioner of Wildlife Conservation at the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities.

“This meeting was an opportunity to understand how best to use the authority of the Ugandan police force, the Uganda Wildlife Authority and Customs, to make sure that wildlife criminals are shown justice.”

"The struggle to preserve wildlife is no longer just a national concern. It is an international issue," said Mike Chibita, Director of Public Prosecutions in Uganda. "This is because the poachers and their sponsors run an international network. To fight this network therefore requires concerted international effort. We are thankful to Space for Giants and UNODC and specifically Shamini Jayanathan for helping us to achieve this."

Giants Club delivers

The Ugandan initiative is the most recent project to launch following the inaugural Giants Club Summit Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta hosted six weeks ago. It raised more than £3.5 million for new elephant-protection projects.

At the Summit, President Kenyatta and President Khama also pledged to improve the wildlife crime prosecution framework in Kenya and Botswana respectively.

Ms Jayanathan is currently supporting the Kenya Wildlife Service in the establishment of a new in house prosecution team that will abide by national prosecution standards and a more streamlined approach to the prosecution of wildlife crime. Space for Giants is also continuing the national roll out of a prosecution toolkit across the country in collaboration with the KWS, ODPP and other NGOs.

Having assessed the legal framework in Botswana, Space for Giants is also exploring with the prosecution authorities in Botswana as to how best to shore up their capacity in the effective investigation and prosecution of wildlife crime.

The Giants Club was founded by the Presidents of Kenya, Gabon, Uganda and Botswana, and Evening Standard proprietor Evgeny Lebedev, the patron of Space for Giants and the Giants Club.

It was established to unite African governments, businesses and conservationists to find a solution to the poaching crisis and assist in the implementation of the Elephant Protection Initiative.

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