• May 29th, 2020

Prosecutors urged to treat wildlife crimes seriously

WINDHOEK - Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta says it is important for prosecutors and investigating officers in wildlife crime to analyse and assess other laws such as the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (Poca), regulations and enforce them to deter illegal hunting of wildlife and illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products. 

He emphasised during an awareness workshop on wildlife legislation and prosecution last week that prosecutors and magistrates must be supported in the handling of wildlife cases.

“We need to treat wildlife crime as a serious crime, and work to ensure that enforcement efforts adequately protect wildlife and curb the illegal hunting of wildlife and illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products. Effective operationalisation and implementation of relevant laws and regulations is crucial and appropriate penalties, prosecution and sentencing must be in place,” he remarked.

Shifeta also said there is need to ensure that key enforcement agencies and prosecuting authorities collaborate effectively and efficiently. 

According to him, prosecutors and magistrates need to be well versed in the relevant legislations, and understand the effect of wildlife crime on the local and national economy, adding they also need to know the different types of these animals. 

He noted unprecedented levels of elephant and rhinoceros poaching across Africa, and Namibia is no exception, are being experienced and this threatens the future of these species and the ecosystem they inhabit. 

Therefore, he said this situation demands strict implementation of the strategies and measures to curb illegal hunting of wild animals. 

Further, he said as poaching groups increase in size, number and sophistication, it is more important than ever that law enforcement responses are robust, reliable and effective. 

Shifeta maintained wildlife trafficking has become a multi-million-dollar criminal enterprise that has expanded to more than just a conservation concern. 

“The increased involvement of organised crime in poaching and wildlife trafficking promotes corruption, threatens peace, strengthens illicit trade routes, destabilises economies and communities that depend on wildlife for their livelihoods,” he said. 

In 2017, the Nature Conservation Ordinance, 1975 (Ord. 4 of 1975) was 
amended to increase the penalties for illegal hunting. 

Equally the Controlled Wildlife Products and Trade Act, 2008 was also amended to increase the penalties for offences, mainly on possession, which resulted in the Controlled Wildlife Products and Trade Amendment Act, 2017 (Act 6 of 2017). 

“This review of our wildlife legislation includes appropriate penalties for offences related to illegal hunting and trade in wildlife and wildlife products, and must be enforced or implemented fully. Our legal system and prosecution of illegal hunting and illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife product cases need to be strengthened,” he stated. 

Moreover, he said there is a need to do more and ensure that those involved in wildlife crime are dealt with in accordance with Namibia’s wildlife legislation. 

He condemned ill-intentioned activities of wildlife poaching and call upon all those involved to refrain from such activities with immediate effect or risk being caught and face the full wrath of the law.

Albertina Nakale
2019-09-20 07:50:07 | 8 months ago

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