Law Enforcement, Administration and Civil Society unite in the fight against environmental crime in CAR

8 January 2020
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Heads of Law Enforcement, Administration, and Central African Civil Society are now embarking on the fight against environmental crime: forest and wildlife and assimilated offenses (PLCFFE).

During a multi-stakeholder workshop that took place from 7-9 August 2019 under the guidance of the Minister of Water, Forests, Hunting and Fishing, a national platform has been established for the fight against environmental crime: forestry and wildlife and similar offences. The workshop was organised by the Interpol Executive Advisor with funding from the CV4C Project.

The platform is endowed with the right support and a solid legal base to contribute to the fight against environmental crime: the Internal Regulations and the order N0 042 / MEFCP / DIRCAB / PFCCPAC of 24 August 2019.

The Platform for Combating Environmental Crime forest and wildlife and similar crimes has the following objectives:

  1. Moralise public life: This involves subjecting public and private organisations with a leading administrative, political or private position to the obligation to protect our forest resources and proscribe bad governance in this sector.
  2. Create a bond of trust between the people and public and private actors: Promoting good governance amongst the operators of the Central African forests with a view to preserving the environment and forest resources.
  3. Preventing forest, wildlife, environmental crime and similar offenses: The aim is to denounce environmental offences to the authorities, Water and Forests agents and NGOs.
  4. Laying the foundations for sustainable economic and social development: Empowering local populations and the Central African people in general, as well as establishing a new era with development partners in order to improve the image of the Central African Republic in the field of good management of our forests.

The new platform fits well with the National Recovery Plan. It has the following responsibilities:

  • develop and implement a national strategy to combat forest, wildlife and environmental crime;
  • coordinate, supervise and monitor the implementation of policies to prevent and combat all forms of crime in the forestry sector;
  • periodically evaluate administrative instruments and measures to determine their effectiveness in the prevention and fight against forest, wildlife and environmental crime;
  • identify the structural causes of poor governance in the timber exploitation and export chain, and propose measures to the authorities to eliminate them in all public and private services;
  • give opinions and advice for the protection of our forests to any natural or legal person or to any public or private body, and to recommend legislative and regulatory measures to prevent and combat forest, wildlife and environmental crime;
  • assist public and private sectors in the development of ethics rules;
  • educate and sensitise local populations on the consequences of forest, wildlife and environmental crime;
  • disseminate and popularise texts relating to forest management;
  • carry out investigations into bad practices of certain forest operators, identify the alleged perpetrators of the destruction or illicit marketing of forest resources and their accomplices and initiate legal proceedings;
  • collect, centralise and use the information and complaints it receives;
  • seize the Public Prosecutor near the competent jurisdiction;
  • ensure strength in intersectoral coordination and the development of cooperation with the bodies which take part in the fight against this crime, both at national and international level.

Confidence has been strengthened between the law enforcement agencies and the non-governmental actors involved in the fight against these phenomena. Capacities of the members of this platform have been strengthened by the tools necessary for their actions. Members, in particular the heads of law enforcement services, administrative services, and members of civil society, are now able to develop and propose prevention and repression strategies and measures on the subject nationally, regionally, and internationally.

Given the current state of affairs, there are no legal provisions relating to the suppression of environmental crime, members of the platform now invite public powers (such as the High Authority in charge of good governance and High Council for Communication) to urgently work together to implement recommendations resulting from this workshop, as well as to study the possibilities of taking alternative measures to punish offenses linked to wildlife, forestry, and environmental crime, given the scale of the phenomenon and the loss of income it generates for the treasury of the state.

To this end, members of the platform ask the organisations of the civil society to engage as a new force in this fight, by feeding public authorities with relevant information to help resolve this plague, and also to take concrete actions in terms of legislative proposals and strategies to minimise the scale of the phenomenon.