Magistrates in Mozambique Look for Solutions on Environmental Crime Management

October 16, 2018
Magistrates in Mozambique Look for Solutions on Environmental Crime Management

The Assembly of the Republic of Mozambique in 2017 passed a conservation law imposing stricter penalties for wildlife criminals. However, gaps remain in the prosecution and adjudication of these crimes. Judges and prosecutors often lack a sufficient understanding of wildlife crime management leading often to inefficient handling of wildlife crime cases.

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The Assembly of the Republic of Mozambique in 2017 passed a conservation law imposing stricter penalties for wildlife criminals. However, gaps remain in the prosecution and adjudication of these crimes. Judges and prosecutors often lack a sufficient understanding of wildlife crime management leading often to inefficient handling of wildlife crime cases. By bringing together local magistrates from southern region of Mozambique for a day-long workshop on July 13th, the Centro de Formação Jurídica e Judiciária and Procuradoria Geral da República in partnership with The ICCF Group, is working to empower those adjudicators primarily responsible for handling wildlife crime cases in the first instance, by engaging them with wildlife crime experts to discuss potential solutions to the challenges that currently hamstring wildlife-related prosecutions in Mozambique.

With rich biodiversity and an abundance of natural resources, Mozambique is challenged with protecting its wildlife from poaching, illegal trafficking, and species endangerment. The ongoing presence of poachers and their use of sophisticated killing tactics are major hurdles for the Government of Mozambique’s conservation efforts. Mozambique’s Conservation Areas Law, most recently amended in 2017, implemented heavy fines and imprisonment penalties of 12-16 years for wildlife offenders. However, local district courts have applied the law ineffectively and inconsistently.

In addition to informing prosecutors and judges who work in wildlife crime hotspots of the current judicial and legislative frameworks for crimes involving illegal hunting, poisoning of wildlife, trespassing, and illegal possession and dealing in wildlife trophies, the July 13th workshop aimed to engage magistrates on a series of topics, including how to build effective wildlife crime cases through quality planning and collaboration with authorities. Properly gathering and evaluating evidence, collaborating with authorities and witnesses, and more carefully deliberating court sentencing decisions can lead to greater consistency across districts.

From this workshop, The ICCF Group is working together with participating judges and prosecutors to build a judicial roadmap, which outlines an action plan on the improved prosecution of wildlife crimes in Mozambique.

The ICCF Group is working across the African continent with Space for Giants, Stop Ivory, and legal experts from the U.S. and Europe to strengthen the capacity of prosecution authorities and the judiciary to combat wildlife trafficking. Beginning with regional programs, working with national-level judges and senior government officials in 16 countries, The ICCF Group has provided tools and strategies to strengthen the application of existing legal frameworks, enhance coordination on both the national and regional level, and utilize resources and partnerships available to combat wildlife trafficking. The ICCF Group facilitated a series of regional workshops held in east, southern, and central Africa, respectively, between 2015 and 2017 and is now working on the national and local levels of countries in these regions, including Gabon and Mozambique, to provide those officials most often dealing with wildlife crime cases these same tools and resources to enhance their capacity to effectively apply anti-poaching and anti-trafficking laws.

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