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Guidelines for prosecuting wildlife related crimes developed

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.