Judges and prosecutors gear up to combat wildlife crime in Indonesia
Jakarta, Indonesiam 31 July 2007—The Supreme Court of Indonesia is this week hosting the country's first national "Judiciary Workshop on Wildlife Crime and Prosecution" as part of the government's commitment to step up its fight against organized poaching and trafficking of wild animals and plants that threatens the biodiversity of Southeast Asia. Indonesia is the current chair of the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) and is presently forming its own interagency wildlife crime task force.
The two-day workshop brings together representatives of Indonesia's judicial sector, as strategically selected by the Supreme Court of Indonesia. The workshop will focus on prosecution, investigation, Indonesian laws governing protection of wild animals and plants, local and transnational cooperation with other agencies, and ASEAN-wide initiatives on Mutual Legal Assistance. Judicial officers from Thailand, Malaysia and the United States are joining the event in order to share best practices and step up international cooperation to fight transnational criminals involved in the wildlife trade.
ASEAN-WEN has identified the need to intensify the involvement of judges and prosecutors in reducing wildlife crime in Southeast Asia. Officers involved in wildlife law enforcement from across the region have appealed for stiffer penalties and increased prosecution rates in order to deter wildlife crime. This can only be possible through increased judicial awareness of how serious wildlife crime has become.
Speakers and observers from the Supreme Court of Indonesia, Ministry of Forestry of Indonesia, Indonesian National Police, Indonesian Customs, ASEAN Secretariat and US Department of Justice will attend. USAID's Indonesia Mission and representative from the US Embassy are participating in the opening ceremony. The Secretariat of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is represented by Dr. Amish Roy, the Director of the Office of Coordination of the Bureau for External Relations and Coordination.
In his opening keynote speech, the Deputy Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Dr. Paulus Effendi Lotulung, commented "judicial awareness on the seriousness of wildlife crime needs to be enhanced. The Supreme Court is delighted to host this capacity building effort for all enforcement agencies to meet this vital objective''.
Also attending is the Director General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation, Ministry of Forestry, Mr Arman Malollongan who stated, ''The penalties imposed on the wildlife trade offenders are not severe enough to deter their criminal activities. I am very pleased to have the Supreme Court as our main partner in this event, so as to bring the message to illegal traders that the government is serious in its efforts to combat wildlife crime''.
This is the second workshop in a series to be held in ASEAN-WEN countries, following the success of a similar event in the Philippines in May 2007. A third is planned for Thailand in late 2007.
''The involvement of the judicial sector is critical to increasing law enforcement co-operation in Indonesia between CITES officials, Customs and the National Police in fighting wildlife crime," said Dr Ani Mardiastuti, TRAFFIC's National Co-ordinator for Indonesia. "This workshop builds on the goals of Indonesia's national response to ASEAN-WEN and highlights the need to treat wildlife crime as a serious offence punishable by existing laws, and not simply a 'soft issue'."
ASEAN-WEN is an intergovernmental initiative that is bringing ASEAN governments together to combat wildlife crime. Two international organizations, TRAFFIC and Wildlife Alliance (formerly WildAid), via a cooperative partnership with the US Agency for International Development (USAID), are providing technical assistance to government agencies that are implementing ASEAN-WEN.
The experiences and outputs from this training will guide the development of similar trainings to be conducted subsequently in Thailand and other ASEAN-WEN member countries.
Wildlife Alliance (formerly WildAid) is an international conservation organization with offices in Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Washington, DC, and Vladivostok. Much of Wildlife Alliance's work is focused on capacity building for wildlife enforcement agencies in developing countries. Wildlife Alliance has also won international acclaim for effective and practical approaches to endangered species protection, including successful protection and public awareness programs.
Prof. Dr Paulus Effendi Lotulung, SH, Deputy Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Indonesia gave the opening keynote speech at the judiciary workshop on wildlife crime and prosecution