AWF Hosts International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Team in Kinshasa
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The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) office in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) hosted the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) Officer Samantha Novick and her delegation last week to assess the level of implementation of INL-funded projects and the effectiveness of the activities supported by these projects.
The INL delegation was received on September 7, 2022 in Kinshasa, DRC by AWF staff and their implementing partners Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) and Juristes pour L'environnement (JUREC).
Following AWF's three-pronged approach: Stop the Killing, Stop the Trafficking, and Stop the Demand, INL is funding two projects in DRC: ‘Strengthening Capacity to Combat Wildlife Trafficking in the Democratic Republic of Congo’ and ‘Fighting International Wildlife Trafficking in the DRC’ in order to strengthen the capacity of law enforcement agencies to combat wildlife trafficking in DRC and thus reduce poaching and wildlife trafficking in order to secure wildlife as well as build the capacity of law enforcement agencies to combat illegal international wildlife trade in DRC by strengthening interdiction, investigation, enforcement, prosecution, and judicial capacities to reduce wildlife trafficking through N'djili International Airport and Matadi Port.
This two-day visit was mainly punctuated by meetings. The INL delegation attended a meeting at the AWF office where the AWF anti-trafficking team presented the progress of activities carried out under INL fund from 2018 to now as well as all wildlife crime fighting activities conducted by AWF in several African countries.
“This face-to-face meeting with the INL allowed us today to sell a good image of AWF and show that activities to fight against wildlife crime carried out under INL funded projects must also extend to all DRC landscapes in order to achieve much better results,” said Antoine Tabu, DRC Country Coordinator.
Novick was pleased to hear that 247 law enforcement officers from the judiciary, ICCN, Congolese national police, and customs were trained on topics related to strengthening wildlife case management of wildlife cases through judicial interventions and the standardization of investigations and prosecutions, and the strengthening of the capacities of eco-guards and the judicial police in their roles in the criminal justice system and the crime scene management. A cross-border mutual legal assistance conference has also been organized and handbooks on the laws relating to wildlife in the DRC have been produced and distributed.
“I am satisfied after two years of working remotely to meet you and see all these advances. I have learned a lot from the AWF activities and think that we will capitalize on them for future perspectives,” Novick remarked.
The delegation also visited ICCN, JUREC, and JURISTRALE offices and observe the collaboration between them. AWF remains committed to fighting wildlife crime in both DRC and other countries to conserve Africa's biodiversity and ecosystems.