The effort will result in improved prosecutions and investigations of cases involving illegal exploitation of natural resources.
PIC: The president of Africa Prosecutors Associations, Dr. Helder Fernando Pitta of Angola; director of public prosecutions Mike Chibita; deputy speaker Jacob Oulanyah and the director of the UN environment law division Elizabeth Maruma at the regional forum for police and prosecutors on environmental crime in Entebbe on Monday. (Credit: Abou Kisige)
ENVIRONMENT | PROTECTION
ENTEBBE - With environmental crime on the rise, but few cases being successfully prosecuted, the United Nations (UN) has launched an effort to develop a curriculum.
The curriculum is meant to equip African police investigators and prosecutors to investigate and prosecute cases against the environment better.
The UN believes that a curriculum for police academies and prosecutor training institutes in Africa will create a pool of investigators and prosecutors in environmental crime. The effort will result in improved prosecutions and investigations of cases involving illegal exploitation of natural resources.
The UN held its maiden forum for police and prosecutors from 24 African countries on environmental crime education at Imperial Resort Beach Hotel in Entebbe on Monday.
This was part of the continental effort to make environmental crime an integral part of prosecution and administration of justice infrastructure.
The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, who opened the forum, noted that training programmes for police investigators and prosecutors are deficient in environmental education.
Oulanyah welcomed the UN move to retool investigators and prosecutors in probing and prosecuting crimes against the environment.
"The reality is so glaring that you have to be stubborn to ignore it. I have seen rivers dry. The drought is becoming more severe and frequent. This is an issue of human survival," he said.
While Uganda has established a robust institutional and legal framework, pronouncing that everyone has a right to a clean the environment, Oulanyah said, in practice, the story is different.
"You, the Police and prosecutors have a big task. And do not go for small people committing small environmental crimes such as littering the streets. Deal with the institutions that are supposed to enforce the law," he said.
Elizabeth Maruma, the director at the law division of the UN environment, said the development of a sustainable training programme for the African police and prosecutors is already underway. But the UN has not set any timelines within which the curriculum for the police and prosecutors would be ready.
"Environmental crime is threatening and hindering our livelihoods, jobs, revenue. It has continually become a stumbling block to our efforts to achieve sustainable development and importantly eradicating poverty in Africa," Maruma added.