Countering Wildlife Trafficking in Mozambique: Attorney General’s Office approves a rapid reference manual to facilitate prosecuting wildlife crimes
Mozambique takes an important step in its efforts to combat wildlife trafficking by approving a clear ‘how to’ guide to be used by prosecutors. In a joint effort between USAID’s SPEED+ program and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), new rapid reference manuals were developed for the Mozambican Attorney General’s Office that help prosecutors navigate the complexities of prosecuting wildlife crimes, which are often carried out by transnational crime syndicates in the region.
Based on best practices and similar manuals used in other countries—such as Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)—the new rapid reference manual lists a total 92 crimes and provides legal frameworks and process maps to help prosecutors correctly handle evidence chain of custody and the framing of cases. The manual focuses on crimes against biodiversity and wildlife, while also covering related legal matters such as criminal firearm possession, organized crime, corruption, counterfeiting and fraud, smuggling of property, illegal immigration, and interference with the administration of justice.
Following the official approval from the Attorney General’s Office, USAID’s SPEED+ program will now support training for field prosecutors working in districts with high value biodiversity and known wildlife trafficking syndicates, including the districts encompassing the Gorongosa, Niassa, and Limpopo Conservation Areas. Interest is growing around the idea of leveraging the rapid reference manual to develop bench books for judges, an activity SPEED+ will explore in the coming year. While poaching continues in Mozambique—who has set aside 26% of its vast territory for conservation—government officials remain committed to strengthening the enforcement of existing laws to counter wildlife trafficking and protect the country’s rich biodiversity resources.