Platform to enhance collaboration in countering illegal wildlife trade launched in Central Africa
Douala, Cameroon, 16th February 2016—A new platform to promote collaboration between enforcement agencies engaged in tackling illegal wildlife trade and related criminal activities has been launched by representatives from justice and law enforcement agencies in four Central African countries.
The Africa Trade in Wildlife Information eXchange (AFRICA-TWIX) platform was launched following a phase of in-country needs assessments with government stakeholders. AFRICA-TWIX is based on experience drawn from the hugely successful EU-TWIX database and information exchange system used by enforcement personnel from across Europe for more than a decade.
AFRICA-TWIX will initially run in four countries of Central Africa—Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, and Democratic Republic of Congo—after which, the aim is to expand its geographical scope and coverage to other parts of the continent.
Like EU-TWIX, AFRICA-TWIX will be managed by TRAFFIC on behalf of government enforcement agencies. It will be hosted by COMIFAC (the Central Africa Forest Commission).
“The Member States’ choice of TRAFFIC to manage AFRICA-TWIX is a huge responsibility and a recognition of TRAFFIC’s capacity and contribution towards the fight against illegal wildlife trade in the sub-region,” said Dr Paulinus Ngeh, TRAFFIC’s Regional Director for Central Africa.
The launch of AFRICA-TWIX took place following a two day workshop held in Douala, Cameroon, to validate the structure of the database on seizures and to define which criminal offences relate to illegal wildlife trade in each country.
The National Co-ordinator of the Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF) in Congo, Mr Paco Bockandza spoke of the need for close collaboration between AFRICA-TWIX and the Wildlife Enforcement Monitoring System of the Lusaka Agreement.
The workshop was organized by TRAFFIC in collaboration with COMIFAC and was attended by 28 representatives of justice and law enforcement agencies (forest controllers, police, Customs etc), from the four target countries.
Also in attendance were representatives from International and regional organizations such as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Customs Organization (WCO), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), INTERPOL, LATF, the Observatory for Central African Forests (OFAC), WWF and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).
“AFRICA-TWIX has raised high expectations in the sub-region, which require both TRAFFIC and COMIFAC to ensure the outcomes of this workshop are fully and effectively implemented,” said Martin Tadoum, Deputy Executive Secretary of COMIFAC.
Madame Stella-Michelle Nguenoni Yoka, Deputy State Council of Congo said: “The AFRICA-TWIX database will constitute a valuable source of information, especially concerning habitual criminals and should help ensure that following conviction they will receive appropriate penalties.”
The meeting was organized under the second phase of TRAFFIC’s project DETER, “Demand Reduction and Enforcement supporting The conservation of Elephants and Rhinos,” which is supported by the German Polifund measure and implemented by GIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB).
The German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) commissions GIZ to implement a range of bilateral and regional projects, mainly within the scope of the Ministry’s International Climate Initiative (IKI).
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is responsible for the majority of overseas development assistance from the United States Government and works to end extreme poverty and promote resilient, democratic societies while advancing security and prosperity for America and the world.