LATF commends outcomes of a multi-agency workshop to curb widlife crime in Uganda

Nairobi/Kampala 5 February 2020 – Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF) in collaboration with the Grace Farms Foundation (GFF) and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) convened a three-day multi-agency workshop held from 3rd – 5th February 2020 at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Kampala, Uganda.

The workshop deliberated on modalities for strengthening the newly created National Wildlife Crime Coordination Taskforce (NWCCTF) and train local law enforcement officers on techniques to combat wildlife crime in Uganda. The Chairman of the Tanzania National Anti-poaching Task Force Mr. Robert Mande, espoused on Tanzania’s success story in combating poaching and wildlife trafficking and shared valuable lessons with NWCCTF.

Members of NWCCTF – Uganda that participated at the workshop included Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Uganda Wildlife Authority, Uganda People’s Defence Force, Uganda Police Force, Financial Intelligence Authority, Uganda Revenue Authority (Customs Department), Internal Security Organization, External Security Organization, National Forestry Authority, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control. The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), which works closely with the Task Force, also participated.  

The Minister of State  for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities-Uganda,Honorable Kiwanda Godfrey Ssuubi, shaking hands with Edward Phiri, Director of Lusaka Agreement Task Force

The workshop is the latest in a series of capacity building programs organized by LATF locally and globally to provide expert training to law enforcement officials with the goal of dismantling transnational organized crime syndicates and combat poaching and illegal trade in wildlife. The 2019 and 2020 multi-agency training programs have engaged a number of member countries of the African Union, including Angola, Botswana, Cameroun, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo-Brazzavile, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. 

The Minister of State for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities-Uganda,Honourable Kiwanda Godfrey Ssuubi adreessing the participants during the opening session

Minister of State for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities of the Republic of Uganda, Hon. Godfrey Kiwanda Ssuubi delivered the keynote speech that outlined Uganda’s steadfast commitment in combating wildlife crime as a priority for wildlife conservation in the country. He pointed out that the intricacy and scope of organized syndicates in wildlife trafficking requires combined capacities of law enforcement agencies to outsmart the organized and increasingly sophisticated criminal gangs. The minister commended LATF and GFF for convening the workshop aimed at strengthening the National Task Force in combating wildlife crime in Uganda.

Director of LATF, Mr. Edward Phiri, underscored the importance of the workshop, expressing his delight on Uganda’s unwavering resolve to conservation which has been reinforced by the creation of the Task Force that will spearhead prosecution-led investigations in the fight against wildlife crime in the country and beyond. He stated that LATF will continue lending support to the NWCCTF-Uganda, leveraging on its mandate and capacity to operate across borders and foster interstate and interagency cooperation to combat transationalwildlife crime.

Mr. Edward Phiri, Director LATF addressing the participants during the opening session

Mr. Rod Khattabi, GFF’s Chief Accountability Officer & Justice Initiative Director, lauded the partnership with local leaders, government agencies and law enforcement, which was is key to building capacity that will achieve real and successful outcomes. He was confident that the collaborations established will go a long way in strengthening the National Wildlife Task Force and ultimately lead to new transnational investigations and prosecutions that will help end wildlife trafficking.

Other speakers included Mr. John Makombo, Director of Conservation of Uganda Wildlife Authority; Mr. John Brown, Deputy Attaché US Department of Homeland Security Investigations. In their remarks, the speakers expressed their congratulations on the creation of the Wildlife Crime Coordination Task Force in Uganda and reiterated the need for enhanced cooperation between the agencies and their counterparts in the neighbouring countries. They also pledged support to the initiative to strengthen the Task Force for improved effectiveness.

Wildlife trafficking generates more than $10 billion a year for transnational organized criminal networks hence the need to constantly formulate enforcement strategies that will curtail this vice that is threatening to decimate Africa’s invaluable environmental reources. LATF has continued to collaborate with partners as well as governments and task forces in African states to  provide law enforcement training mainly on modern techniques to curb this menace.

Among key recommendations of the workshop, LATF has been tasked to play a coordinative role to NWCCTF in organizing and undertaking transnational law enforcement activities and capacity building of the law enfocement personnel. It was also tasked to assist the National Task Force in benchmarking with the Tanzanian and other similar taskforces in the region.

Participants included 30 key representatives and law enforcement officers from LATF, NWCCTF-Uganda, Robert Mande, Chairman of the National Anti-poaching Task Force of the United Republic of Tanzania and GFF. Other participants included US Homeland Security Investigations.

The sharing of experiences and lessons learned by the participants from the workshop will go a long way in enhancing inter-agency cooperation and buttress efforts by NWCCTF to effectively combat wildife crime in Uganda. The workshop was officially closed by the Executive Director of UWA Mr. Sam Mwandha. He thanked the organizers of the Workshop, LATF and GFF, for   the support as well as the constituent members of NWCCTF for availing participants. He stated that the workshop marked an important milestone in strengthening NWCCTF towards safeguarding Uganda’s rich wildlife resources, which are contributing  over 10% to the country’s GDP. He called for increased cooperation among the agencies and urged partners for  more support towards combating wildlife crime in Uganda.

Press release

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