New York, USA, Sep 23 – Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed has called for concrete policy and legal actions to curb environmental crime across the world.
She also urged governments across the world to put in place effective legislative frameworks – including stiffer penalties – to contain the spiraling trend of environmental crimes.
“Environmental crime is a fast growing form of international organized crime and concrete policy and legal actions are needed across the UN and its pillars to stem the trend,” she said.
Addressing a high level side event on the rise of environmental crime on the sidelines of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly, the Cabinet Secretary cited poaching, illegal fishing and illicit or illegal dealing in charcoal as some of the crimes that were rising at an alarming rate.
“Estimates suggest that environmental crime is increasing by 5-7% globally every year or 2-3 times that of the global economy,” said the CS.
She added: “The estimated number of elephants killed in Africa is in the range of 20–25,000 elephants per year. Activity in the illegal ivory trade has more than doubled since 2007 and is over three times greater than it was during the last peak in 1998, with the street value of ivory capable of reaching up to USD 2,205 per kilogram in Beijing,” she said.
“For instance, in September 2015, Kenya and Italy signed two agreements on extradition and mutual legal assistance to help in combating unconventional international crimes including terrorism, cybercrimes and wildlife trafficking,” said the CS.
Urging countries to strengthening legislative frameworks, the Cabinet Secretary said Kenya has reviewed and enacted a robust and progressive legislation on wildlife conservation and management which came into operation in January 2014.
“The Act provides for very stiff penalties for wildlife crime offenders including life sentences in certain cases,” she said.
“We should critically examine the challenge posed by disparities in environmental crime punishments in different countries and consider harmonizing laws such as wildlife protection legislation especially between countries with shared ecosystems,” said the Cabinet Secretary.
The Cabinet Secretary further urged governments across the world to enhance budgetary allocation to environmental crime enforcement institutions as well as commit more resources to surveillance technology and monitoring.
The CS further called for the establishment of special environmental crime prosecution units saying Kenya has established a special unit within the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to specifically deal with environmental crimes including illegal wildlife trade.