COURTS MOVE FROM $40 FINES TO 3 YEARS+ IN PRISON FOR WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING

Analysis of wildlife trafficking cases brought before Malawi’s courts in 2016 has shown an enormous step change in sentencing.   Between 2008 and 2015, average sentencing was just $40 with no custodial sentences passed.  In 2016, there were a total of 49 custodial sentences handed out by magistrates, averaging between 1 1/2 to 8 years, with an average sentence to 3 1/2 years.  There was a staggering 93% conviction rate.  Congratulations are in order to Malawi’s justice system.

Convictions included the first ever police officer, the first Foreign National (a Zambian army captain) and the first conviction for the trafficking of rhino horn.  All received custodial sentences.

It is imperative that wildlife criminals who are caught receive a robust hearing in court. LWT’s court programme includes providing legal advocates to monitor the proceedings of wildlife crime cases in courts and LWT is also mandated by the Ministry of Justice to run public-private prosecutions, thus providing both financial and technical support to the Department of Public Prosecutions.

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