Earlier this year, we started work on tackling wildlife crimes – the stealing and smuggling of ivory – with Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, Wilkinson and Associates, and the Department of Wildlife and Parks, with funding from Stop Ivory.
For the past few months, Citizens for Justice has been conducting court monitoring on wildlife cases where different people have been given custodial sentences. Project Officer, Susan Lukhere, has been leading CFJ’s work.
Malawian courts on 22 November 2016 sentenced a man to 8 years without an option of fine on an offence of illegal possession of protected species as contrary to section 86 as read together with section 110 of the National Parks and Wildlife Act which prohibits such malpractices. In a separate case, two Lilongwe policemen and two accomplices on the same date were given a custodial sentence of 3-4 years for being illegally found with protected species which is against our laws.
Also this month, Citizen for Justice had the opportunity along with the Lilongwe Wildlife Trust to meet parliamentarians from the United Kingdom on conservation in Malawi and share more about the project. The parliamentarians were pleased to help and support in any way they can to make sure that this malpractices has come to an end.
The project has three objectives:
- To complete case monitoring, analysis, reporting and management of existing court records in Malawi to help examine how existing laws are applied to wildlife crime and to inform a review of prosecution and judicial processes and other interventions needed to deter wildlife related crimes;
- To provide long-term on-the-job external mentoring for wildlife crime prosecutors within the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), Malawi Police Services-(prosecutors) (MPS) and, with support as needed, by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), in order to help secure better sentences for serious wildlife crime;
- To establish a private-public litigation programme that works with the prosecution department in strengthening wildlife cases before the courts for stiffer penalties, encouraging the documentation and transparency of courts in dealing with wildlife cases.
Watch this space for more project updates!