On February 23-24, The ICCF Group convened senior prosecutors, magistrates, investigators, wildlife agency officials, and legislators from Central African countries to examine strategies for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of wildlife crime investigations, prosecutions, and sentencing.
Prosecutions of wildlife crimes are often inhibited by weak investigations producing insufficient or tainted evidence, lack of coordination among law enforcement agencies, and significant courtroom delays. Delegations reviewed and agreed to implement new strategies for addressing those challenges, including prosecutor-led investigations, instituting prosecution handbooks for wildlife crimes and inter-agency standard operating procedures, as well as the development of sentencing guidelines by the judiciary.
The ICCF Group is producing an “Action Plan and Implementation Road Map” for strengthening criminal justice institutions within the context of each country’s identified needs and challenges.
The Central African Criminal Justice Workshop on Combating Wildlife Crime was led by an expert faculty, which included France Lemeunier, a Belgian legal consultant on counter-terrorism and organized crime; U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Kendall; former Assistant U.S. Attorney Marcus Asner, now a partner at Arnold & Porter; Shamini Jayanathan, Director of Legal Strategy for Space for Giants; and Katherine Ghilain, an associate at Sive, Paget & Riesel. Alain Georges-Moukoko, an internationally recognized Gabonese prosecutor from the Appeals Court of Franceville, served as an expert in Gabonese wildlife and organized crime prosecutions.
Other jurisdictions, such as Kenya, have seen drastically improved conviction rates from wildlife prosecutions after implementing such strategies as prosecutor-led investigations and developing prosecutor handbooks on wildlife crimes.