By Caroline Chebet, Giants Club African Conservation Fellow, The Standard.
Published 20 December 2018.
Kenya lacks capacity to punish those involved in wildlife-related crimes, a new report has indicated.
The report by WildlifeDirect, a Kenyan and US registered charitable organisation, says some of those Kenya has failed to arrest and prosecute are world’s most wanted criminals as far as trafficking of wildlife trophies is concerned.
The organisation was founded by African conservationist Richard Leakey, who is credited with ending elephant slaughter in Kenya in the 80s.
The report, released on December 18, analysed Kenya’s law enforcement and response to crimes related to wildlife.
It also analysed data collected from courts in Kenya between 2016 and 2017. It says lack of cooperation in tackling transnational crimes have complicated matters.
It shows half of all Kenyan wildlife traffickers on Interpol’s most wanted list are yet to be arrested even after the were linked to major trafficking syndicates of elephant ivory, pangolin scales and rhino horns across the world.
“Despite the international warrant of arrest of two high-profile fugitives who are also wildlife traffickers and masterminds behind exportation of the largest consignments of ivory and being part of transnational organised crimes, the fugitives are yet to be arrested,” says the report.
It adds: “Half of Kenyans on Interpol’s most wanted list are wildlife traffickers. The suspects have not been brought to justice despite playing roles in several seizures of elephant ivory, pangolin scales and rhino horn, made worldwide and attributed to Kenyan customs points.”
Interpol has given a warrant of arrest against three Kenyans – Mweri Jefwa, Samuel Bakari Jefwa and Gedi Ahmed Mahabub.
Mweri Jefwa and Samuel Bakari Jefwa, who are among those exposed in the report, are said to have been behind exportation of 6,400kg of elephant tusks from Kenya to Singapore in 2014.
“An international warrant of arrest is in effect against the two with Interpol issuing a Red Notice and a magistrate court in Mombasa issuing warrants of arrest. Yet the two remain at large,” it says.
Nine people accused of trafficking ivory and rhino horns between 2016 and 2017 have cases still pending before Kenyan courts.
Seven of them, the report says, absconded after being granted bail and bond. Two others have never been apprehended and have warrants of arrest issued against them for trafficking in elephant tusks.
Read the full story here. This story is reproduced here as part of the Giants Club African Conservation Journalism Fellowships, a Space for Giants programme to expand the reach of conservation and environmental journalism in the four countries where we work.