HONIARA, SOLOMON ISLANDS (23RD JUNE 2023). Representatives from national authorities explored new directions for enforcing the laws to protect wildlife species in the Solomon Islands from illegal exploitation and trade.
Officially opening the Workshop on Investigation and Prosecution of Wildlife Crime in Honiara, the Deputy Director (Environment unit) of the Environment & Conservation Division under the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM), Ms. Debra Kereseka, applauded efforts by national partners to strengthen enforcement and compliance to environmental laws in the region. She said that the workshop would assist local enforcement authorities to understand how corrupt practices that are overshadowing the systems can be detected through relevant financial investigation techniques.
The MECDM, through ECD, is mandated to enforce the Wildlife Protection and Management Act 1998 and the Wildlife Protection and Management (Amendment) Act 2017, the Environment Act 1998 and the Protected Areas Act 2010. To ensure the effective implementation and enforcement of these environmental laws, the Department works in collaboration with other line Ministries.
Ms. Kereseka stated that there are still challenges with enforcement and compliance related to limited capacity for wildlife crime investigations and establishing Standard Operating Procedures on wildlife crimes. Sha said there was a need for strengthened engagement and networking efforts amongst relevant enforcement authorities and increasing national capacity in detecting wildlife crimes through financial investigations.
The Deputy Director thanked the workshop participants for their willingness to share the responsibility in minimising various environmental crimes and enhancing compliance to environmental laws in the different sectors and levels they work with. She emphasised that the workshop is also supporting the Government’s policy to strengthen our national regulatory institutions and to ensure that law enforcement agencies, including police, customs, prosecutors, inspectors, rangers, courts, are adequately resourced and equipped to effectively and efficiently uphold the rule of law at all levels.
Ms. Kereseka said,
“We have to recognise and address environmental crimes as a serious threat to the wellbeing, peace and sustainable development of our country and the region. In this connection, I wish to remind us that even our national security strategy identified environmental problems to be at the centre of some of the security issues that confronts this country. Ladies and gentlemen, I know you all will agree with me that this is a new direction in environmental law enforcement designed to enhance capacity-building to address environmental crimes such as illegal wildlife trade at the national, regional and global level.”
The workshop on the Investigation and Prosecution of Wildlife Crime from 13-15 June, at the Heritage Park Hotel in Honiara, is organised in partnership with the Solomon Islands ECD under the MECDM and is facilitated by the UNODC’s Global Programme on Crimes Against the Environment through the Combating Wildlife Trafficking in the Pacific project, funded by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, and the Anti-Corruption Programme, Teieniwa Vision project funded by the New Zealand Government.