New East Africa Association of Prosecutors website to enhance regional collaboration in the enforcement and prosecution of wildlife crime
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, November 2020—The East Africa Association of Prosecutors (EAAP) have launched a regional website to support its members’ efforts in effectively prosecuting wildlife and related crimes during a virtual event hosted by TRAFFIC.
The new website will promote cooperation on transnational wildlife crimes, data sharing, bilateral agreements, mutual legal assistance, updates and harmonization of relevant laws, procedures, and penalties and was developed with support from the USAID-funded project, Conserving Natural Capital and Enhancing Collaborative Management of Transboundary Resources in East Africa (CONNECT).
“Wildlife crime poses serious threats to the conservation of biodiversity through its impacts on ecosystems and species and directly causing losses to local and national economies,” said Julie Thomson, Director of TRAFFIC’s East Africa Programme Office “Facilitating regular communication between prosecutors, will help to disrupt transnational smuggling networks while ensuring smooth and timely communication between nations when dealing with transnational wildlife smuggling networks.”
Reiterating the U.S. government’s commitment to stopping wildlife crime, Heather Schildge, Deputy Mission Director for Technical Programs and Planning at USAID/Kenya and East Africa, said: “This website is a new, dynamic tool that will improve regional and bilateral collaboration on the enforcement and prosecution of wildlife crime. USAID applauds the representatives of national prosecution offices in the East Africa region for their initiative in identifying the need for this website. We thank you for your commitment to using this website to fully realize its potential as a tool for both public engagement and strengthened collaboration on wildlife crime in the region.”
The EAAP website was created in response to the objectives established under the East Africa Community (EAC) regional strategy to combat poaching and illegal trade and trafficking of wildlife and wildlife products. In particular, it aims to enhance law enforcement capacity in the region, strengthening regional and international collaboration and promoting public awareness. “This website is a great milestone and a tangible output achieved in the process of the implementation of the EAC regional strategy,” said Simon Kiarie, Principal Tourism Officer at the East African Community.
The virtual launch was attended by Justice Jane Abodo, Director of Public Prosecution - Uganda, Dorcas Oduor, Secretary Public Prosecution - Kenya, Angelique Habyarimana, Deputy Prosecutor General - Rwanda, Isaac Kubwayo, Deputy Prosecutor General -Burundi, Rhoda Ogoma, Head of EAAP Secretariat and Ag. Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions in Kenya’s Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP), among other representatives.
In their remarks, the representatives from the EAAP acknowledged that crime is not only devastating wildlife populations, but also local communities who suffer as criminal networks disrupt their lives and economic livelihoods. They appreciated that the website will enhance their ability as prosecutors to communicate at the various levels of the association while facilitating exchange of prosecuting experience and expertise as well as best practices not only in East Africa but also globally.
“We must strive to ensure that the COVID-19 pandemic does not impede our joint efforts in fighting against wildlife crime. This website supports our mission of promoting effective coordination and cooperation in preventing crime within the region,” said Mr Biswalo E.K Mganga, President of the EAAP and Director of Public Prosecutions, Tanzania National Prosecution Services.