The UNODC supports Gabon’s efforts to combat wildlife and forest crime

28-12-2020

Gabon, a country endowed with a wide variety of wildlife and abundant natural, forestry and mining resources, faces significant criminal threats due to poaching and illegal trafficking of its resources. Beyond the damage caused to the environment and biodiversity and the enormous economic loss for the country, which gets dispossessed of its natural heritage, this illicit form of trafficking represents one of the most worrying threats to the peace, security and sustainable development of the country and the Central African region since it represents a source of funding for criminal, terrorist and/or rebel groups operating in the sub-region.

Illicit trafficking in wildlife and natural resources, with revenues estimated at between US$7 and US$23 billion, is now the fourth most lucrative form of crime in the world after drug trafficking, counterfeiting and human trafficking and, according to different sources, between 20,000 and 30,000 African elephants are killed to meet the demand for ivory in Asian countries.

Despite the impact on biodiversity, on the economy and on peace and security, and despite the increasing of poaching and exploitation of natural resources in Central Africa in recent years, this form of transnational organised crime is not addressed with adequate, coordinated and structured governance by the national authorities of the sub-region.

UNODC, in order to strengthen the Gabonese authorities' judicial response capacity to this form of crime, organised a 4-day workshop (15-18 December) for members of the penal chain (law enforcement agents) and magistrates involved in the fight against wildlife and natural resource crime.

The workshop, chaired by the Director of Continuing Education of the National School of Magistrates, Mrs Sidonie Flore Ouwé, was attended by the Ambassador of the European Union, H.E. Rosario Bento Pais, who stressed the importance of joint action between the European Union, ECCAS and UNODC in the fight against illicit trafficking in wildlife and natural resources and reaffirmed the European Union's assiduous commitment to environmental protection and the fight against wildlife crime in the region.

 

The activity enabled participants to examine the range of legal and institutional arrangements in place to deal with this form of crime, to review the roles between magistrates and judicial police actors as per the Gabonese legal framework, the coordination of their actions, and to explore and propose concrete ways in which members of the criminal justice chain and associates - magistrates and members of Gabon's various law enforcement agencies - can improve information sharing, legal cooperation and coordination, including mutual legal cooperation and assistance, in particular with regard to the sharing of essential information on the identities, movements and activities of known members of transnational criminal organisations.

 "You are now trained in the various sophisticated investigative techniques used by experts around the world. I strongly urge you to put this knowledge into practice, to cultivate information sharing and integrity, in order to achieve our common goal of dismantling criminal networks" said Sidonie Flore Ouwé, the Director of the National School of Magistrates.

The activity falls within the framework of the implementation of the regional project "Strengthening national and regional capacities of law enforcement forces, prosecutors and the judiciary and enhancing cooperation among ECCAS member states to fight wildlife crime and illicit trafficking of natural resources", funded by the European Union.