Magistrates commit against tortoises trafficking | WWF

Magistrates commit against tortoises trafficking

Posted on 16 October 2018    
The illegal trade of wild species has picked up like never before since 2000. Indeed, it is currently fourth form of traffic in the world after narcotics, counterfeiting and human trafficking. The endemics species in Madagascar are not spared and many are fraudulently exploited. According to a study conducted by WWF/ TRAFFIC, over 21.000 tortoises were exported in Asia between 2009 and 2016. Several thousands of other tortoises are illegaly consumed by Malagasy people. In April 2018, the authorities seized nearly 10.000 radiated tortoises - the single largest seizure to date - indicating the new scale of this species trafficking.

The weak implementation of existing laws remains one of the factors contributing in this illegal practice. Despite a criminal policy against tortoises elaborated in 2012, only 20% of offenders have been convicted and 80% have been released due to the lack of charges or by ignorance of penal provisions applied against traffickers. Sometimes, people are reluctant to convict someone who is catching a living animal without killing it. 

WWF/TRAFFIC and the Ministry of Justice have decided to join their efforts with the support of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).Together, they are working to strengthen the Malagasy judicial system through the magistrate’s capacity building about the importance of the biodiversity of Madagascar. Also the control of legal and regulatory instruments at international and national levels applicable to the conservation of biodiversity and in case of litigation related to their illegal exploitation is essential.

« It is time for law envorcement agencies, justice, BIANCO (Independent Anti-Corruption Bureau), and environmental civil society to adopt a new common vision regarding natural resources management, if we want to benefit our future generation.” said Rakotoarison Indriamanga, director of The National School of the Judiciary and Court Officers. This institution will train 50 magistrates, police officers, gendarme, border police, custom officers, and environmental officers.   

The capacity building of these key actors of judiciary system should ensure that criminal proceedings against arrested traffickers should be completed. More importantly, these procedures must lead to a systematic condemnation of traffickers at all levels, as soon as their guilt is proven.

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