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The world of conservation and the world of criminal justice have collided in recent years as the awareness of international wildlife trafficking and its significance in the context of transnational organised crime has grown.

Justice For Wildlife is aimed at governments, development partners, NGOs and those involved in legal capacity building, offering advice on how best to go about achieving success based on experience of working with authorities across Africa. It may also assist  organisations to better draft and assess proposals for change.   The expertise on this website is primarily focussed upon commonwealth jurisdictions though civil law expertise is developing.

The focus here is upon the ‘criminal justice pathway’ beginning with the legislative framework, turning to investigator to prosecutor ‘handover’, prosecution capacity , judicial handling of such cases at trial, sentencing and mutual legal assistance.  These components – and solutions – are relevant not just to wildlife crime but in fact to nearly all crime.

What We Do

  • Assessing legislative, prosecutorial capacity and judicial capacity (e.g. ICCWC assessments)

  • Design and delivery of bespoke prosecution ‘toolkits’

  • Building institutional capacity for prosecution agencies and judicial authorities.
  • Development and implementation of charging standards for prosecution agencies.

  • Drafting of legislation and guidance

Track Record

Developed the concept for the first baseline survey of court outcomes in the handling of wildlife crime conducted  by a Kenyan NGO called Wildlife Direct.

This work involved supporting the CEO of Wildlife Direct in understanding the criminal justice pathway, developing the survey and writing the legal recommendations contained therein, working closely with CEO Paula Kahumbu and Ofir Drori of the Eagle Network. Support continues to Wildlife Direct for all subsequent reports, the most recent being in formal partnership with Space for Giants, soon to be released.

The 2014 and 2015 Courtroom Monitoring Report on the Outcome of Court Trials can be found here.

Following observations at local courts in Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia and other jurisdictions, these toolkits were developed to provide prosecutors with the necessary information required to make a charging decision, bearing in mind the very real time pressures under which they operate.  In some jurisdictions, this has meant developing or updating that charging standard as a foundation.

They also includes standard operating procedures for better inter-agency cooperation and included guidance on specific areas of evidence deemed problematic in the context of wildlife crime. In Kenya, this was first developed with the support of the British High Commission, Nairobi and now, with the on-going support of the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, the third edition is on course to include forestry offences and possibly marine –related crime.

This guide was recently  credited by the head of the anti-poaching unit in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions Kenya as being responsible for the rise in the rate of conviction from 24% to over 60%.

These toolkits must be designed and delivered as ‘bespoke’ to each country and take into consideration the resources actually available.  Also bear in mind the audience.  There is little point ‘going for gold’ when bronze will do.  Once practitioners become comfortable using these tools, they can be further developed but as a start, the aim is to get investigators and prosecutors to actually want to use it. And that demands that such a tool be something that can be dipped into with ease.

A culture of adjournments in the criminal trial process can severely diminish, if not kill, the prospects of a successful prosecution. Working closely with the judiciary of Kenya and the British High Commission, Kenya,   a pilot called ‘Active Case Management’ was initiated aimed at reducing the delay that pervades so many courts across the country. This pilot took eighteen months to launch and required baseline and follow-up surveys, strong advocacy, detailed drafting exercises, stakeholder engagement and training.

With the support of the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) that pilot has seen a reduction in the number of adjournments and an  increase in the effective trial rate since its launch in December 2015. Support continues to the steering committee and the UNODC in their plans to take roll out this pilot nationwide.

The sweet  smell of a successful prosecution can rapidly fade away when the sentencing exercise is conducted in a way that is inconsistent and illogical, failing to deliver penalties that are commensurate with the crime despite being perfectly legal.

In Uganda, and working closely with the judiciary there, the first set of sentencing guidelines for wildlife and forestry crime on the continent were drafted earlier this year, currently awaiting validation.

The foundation of a strong prosecution begins with an objective and independent assessment of the evidence and consideration of public interest factors. The ‘charging standard’ is often seen as the cornerstone of any professional prosecution service, lending clarity as to why prosecutors make their decisions and creating accountability and transparency within the service. In Somalia, this was the first stage of work towards building capacity for prosecutions of terrorist crime; likewise in Kenya, you will find the charging standard encapsulated within the national prosecution policy and in Uganda and Botswana, this was recently developed and updated as a starting point towards the development of a prosecution toolkit regarding wildlife crime. For a copy please contact us.

Prior to the adoption of this protocol, there was limited requirements to disclose evidence before trial under Somali procedural law. With the support of the British government, the first judicial conference in well over twenty years was led by Shamini Jayanathan, in 2014, in Mogadishu.

During that conference, the judges unanimously agreed protocols that ensured timely disclosure of evidence to the accused along with a protocol on bail. Both were adopted and signed by the then Chief Justice and the Attorney General of  Somalia. For a copy please contact us.

Appointed to the Technical Advisory Committee for the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute and United Nations Environmental Programme for the project “Combatting Crimes that have Serious Impact on the Environment: State of Knowledge on Approaches”, June 2017. This report will be presented to the UNEP General Assembly in December 2017.

Latest News

Launch of Guidance on Criminal Justice Matters in Wildlife Crime

December 1st, 2017|0 Comments

Following on from the report issued in January 2016 (see publications page for all of these documents), a suite of guidance documents has been issued to assist delivery on some of the recommendations: Conducting Surveys of Court Outcomes Drafting Wildlife Offences Sentencing Guidelines Prosecution Services – Guidance on Conduct and Competencies [...]

Botswana launches new charging standard

September 1st, 2017|0 Comments

The decision to charge is one of the most important decisions a prosecutor can make; it does not start and stop at the beginning of case but continues until the conclusion of the matter, right up to appeal.  A ‘code for charging’ sets the criteria by which a case may be [...]

Dogs on Trial – Why Canine Evidence Doesn’t Always Hit the Mark

August 4th, 2017|0 Comments

Sniffer dogs and tracker dogs play a valuable role in the detection of contraband and the routing out of suspects that have departed a crime scene. Particular publicity is attached to their role - Africa Wildlife Foundation (AWF) are well known for their “Canines for Conservation Programme’, deploying dogs and their [...]