Space for Giants and ICCF propose new measures to prosecute poachers in Southern Africa

Fulfilling pledges promised at the Giants Club Summit, conservationists canvas innovative legal strategies to tackle wildlife crime

Daisy Fletcher
Friday 12 August 2016 18:52 BST
An elephant in Tsavo east national park, Kenya
An elephant in Tsavo east national park, Kenya

The ICCF Group and Space For Giants have proposed new criminal justice measures to combat wildlife crime in countries across Southern Africa.

These strategies were canvassed at a conference in Lusaka, Zambia, on July 26-28, facilitated by The ICCF Group in partnership with Zambia’s Ministry of Tourism & Arts, GEF-UNEP, Space for Giants, Stop Ivory, Arnold & Porter LLP, Sive, Paget & Riesel, Panthera, UNODC, and Game Rangers International.

Shamini Jayanathan, Space for Giants’ Director of Legal Strategy, worked with an experienced faculty of judges and attorneys from the US to lead training sessions and discussions of long-term strategies with country delegations. As a result, each delegation developed a road map for strengthening their criminal justice system’s handling of wildlife crime cases.

Delegations included judges and magistrates, prosecutors, wildlife law enforcement officials, and legislators, and wildlife law enforcement teams from Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, which shed light on a variety of solutions that will improve wildlife prosecution and sentencing in their countries.

“This was an opportunity to bring together law enforcement from different jurisdictions and, in one workshop, 'pitch' various criminal justice solutions for their consideration,” said Ms Jayanathan. “This opportunity has provided us with a clear road map for in-country delivery of criminal justice solutions.”

Managing delays in court, changing standards for prosecution services and improving sentencing guidelines were some of the measures discussed at the regional conference.

These measures will be implemented in Giants Club countries, and other African countries that are members of the Elephant Protection Initiative. It will ensure that those who poach elephants, and other illegal wildlife for profit, are more effectively dealt with by the country’s legal system. The joint Space for Giants/ICCF/Stop Ivory-led initiative was welcomed by local officials.

Mary Kachale, the Director of Public Prosecutions and Ministry of Justice in Malawi, said: “This was a wonderful opportunity to meet with our fellow prosecutors and judicial officers from the region, exchange ideas and enhance opportunities for mutual legal assistance.”

The conference was organised as a first step towards fulfilling the recommendations set out in ICCF & Stop Ivory’s jointly-commissioned report on strengthening criminal justice pathways to combating wildlife crime. ICCF pledged to support such interventions in criminal justice capacity-building at the Giants Club Summit in April.

Susan Lylis, Vice President of the ICCF, said: “The ICCF is eager to continue collaborative efforts with local governments and partner organisations to implement efficient and effective interventions in the fight against wildlife and environmental 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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