Kampala, Uganda– The Ministry of Tourism Wild Life and Antiquities has developed Wild Life offences guide manual to help prosecutors and investigators in prosecuting wildlife and forest related crimes in the country.
Speaking at the Launch of the manual at the Golf course Hotel Kampala, the Minister for Tourism, Professor Ephraim Kamuntu said that although Uganda is endowed with various species of fauna and flora, the country’s species is under danger due to illegal harvesting of the natural resources (forest’s) and Poaching of wild animals especially those in protected conservation areas.
Kamuntu noted that wildlife related crimes have become serious security issues to many countries thus the need to fight it using legal regimes, but for the legal regimes to be effective the stakeholders need to be equipped with skills on how to handle wildlife related cases which are becoming global security threat.
“Wildlife in Uganda is under serious threats due to continued poaching, illegal trade of wildlife and encroachment of wildlife conservation areas, these threats have to be urgently and firmly addressed. Therefore the development of wildlife crime prosecution guidelines is one of the ways to curb wildlife crime in the country “ The Minister Explained.
According to the Chemonges Sabilla, the Director Legal Affairs at the Uganda Wild Life Authority, law enforcement institutions such as the office of the Director of Public Prosecution, Uganda Police that are supposed to fight Wild life related crimes have not done so much because the laws governing wildlife are not common to them which makes there enforcement a big challenge especially when it comes to investigating the case, but with the availability of the guiding manuals, it will make their work more easier .
“This manual summarizes the different crimes related to wildlife, how to present the evidence and the penalties for each crime. In addition, the manual also helps the prosecutors in understanding offences under the National Forest and Tree Planting ACT 2003” Chemogesi explained.
Speaking at the same event, the Executive Director of Uganda Wildlife Authority, Sam Mwandha said that poaching for bush meat, Ivory , fire wood collection and Timber harvesting are the most widespread wildlife crimes in Uganda but if such crimes are not checked, then the country’s tourism industry will be in total dilemma thus the need to empower the prosecutors with enough skills on how to handle such crimes .
“The successful prosecution of those who are apprehended is essential to ensuring that the criminal justice system within Uganda can act sufficiently and strong enough to deter those contemplating to committee such crimes in the country” Mwandha said.
The guide has been created to assist investigators and prosecutors to identify what is required to build a case with evidence against an accused; it sets out the ancillary powers available and presents alternative legislation options for prosecution such as the Anti-Money Laundering Act 2013.
The guide was developed by the Ministry of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities, the Directorate of Public Prosecution and selected government judicial officers representing Interpol and the Uganda Wild Life Authority
The Director Public Prosecution, Justice Mike Chibita said his office is committed to prosecute any suspect who has committed offences related to wildlife because they have set up a special desk to work on only cases related to wildlife and the officers on that desk have received capacity building training on how to handle such cases.