Translated from French by an automated online translation service, so please excuse the roughness. See link for original. Thank you to Anne Dillon for finding the article and doing the online translating.
“Stealing a value of 40 million and pay 10 million to recover freedom.” This was decided by the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development who authorized the Lam Brothers and Company, arrested with a value of 35 million CFA representing 459 luxury jewelry made ??with hairs from elephant tail, to compromise and escape from the prison. This is a worldwide scandal, according to experts of wildlife crime and Environment protection organizations, including protected species such as the elephant.
Why Lam brothers and company indicted in possession of elephant products have not been found? Jewelers had been brought before the Public Prosecutor 4 June 2015 and immediately the subject of a return parquet without really knowing why. To the amazement of all, and after many negotiations, this case has finally ended Monday, June 8, through a transaction in the amount of ten million FCFA. The transaction, authorized by law, the prosecution off and terminate all legal proceedings. The defendants have paid and were released immediately. Consequence: the case was discontinued. A decision qu’Ofir Drori, world expert on wildlife crime, called it a “failure of the rule of law.”
“Wildlife trafficking The business of this magnitude are always a test for the rule of law and corruption levels, and I am saddened to say that Senegal failed the test. When criminals are not even brought to justice, that is where we realize that impunity prevails over the rule of law. A country that respects its own legal system does not prevent the cases to be heard by its courts,” said Drori. The suspected traffickers, and Ousmane Abdoulaye Lam Moustapha Seck, Fallou Gueye Assane Gueye Gueye Sakane and Mor Gueye, were arrested in flagrante delicto June 2, 2015 in possession of 459 luxury jewelry made ??with hair from the tail of an elephant with a value of 35 million CFA. These operations were conducted by the DIC assisted the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development. They were arrested for possession, circulation and marketing of trophies fully protected species, offenses under the law of Senegal. Well connected internationally and very professional, they acted without legal authorization. It is an organized network of “businessman” white collar traffickers who import the raw material from Central Africa and West smuggled through their suppliers in Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, CAR, or Ivory Coast then make and sell these jewels in Dakar but also export abroad.
In Europe the destination markets, an elephant hair bracelet and gold, sold between 1000 and 5000 Euros unity. This is a very lucrative business. This case started in France in 2013, when the French authorities discovered that hair jewelry elephant traffic was between Dakar and Paris, they then took action. Traffickers linked to the network have thus had trouble with the OCLAESP (Central Office for the Fight Against Attacks on Environment and Public Health) which is a French Office led by the French National Gendarmerie, which deals with violations regulated and protected species.
A preliminary investigation was opened at the request of a French magistrate of the Parquet de Paris, she is still ongoing. The Embassy of France in Dakar has entered the service of Water and Forest of Senegal then conducted investigations have uncovered an extensive network specializing in the jewelry trade in elephant hair Dakar. The embassies and international institutions had shown strong support for this action represents an important success in the fight against international wildlife trafficking, a challenge that is becoming a major concern for African governments. “African countries engaged in the fight against wildlife crime never do the ‘Transaction’ for cases of trafficking, particularly the business of international traffic like this. They do not negotiate with traffickers. This is a bad precedent for Senegal. The fact that this case has never known a procedure Justice is a missed opportunity for Senegal to show its commitment to the fight against international wildlife trafficking,” said Ofir Drori.
Yet several times in 2014 in Dakar, traffickers were arrested and tried for the same offenses. These traffickers without fame and financially modest could not enjoy freedom of choice with respect to the transaction and have been tried and convicted; at present, they already have or continue to serve their prison sentence in Rebeuss. “The rich are released while others go behind bars. In addition, the amount of the transaction, CFA 10 million, three times less than the value of the products seized from traffickers, which is ridiculously small,” denounces the protectors of wildlife. The State of Senegal, well known in his fight for the respect of human rights, has it ignored the principle of non-discrimination that would like all citizens have equal treatment before Justice? So why compromise?
At all levels, the pressures in this case were clearly very strong. In any case, the Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development intervened in the case to ask his services to proceed with the transaction. The elephants are fully protected in Senegal, possession, circulation and the sale of elephant trophies are prohibited by Article L.32 code of hunting and wildlife protection, Act No. 86-04 of 24 January 1986. Violators can be punished with imprisonment of up to one year. The elephant is critically endangered. In recent years, massacres have intensified dramatically if they are large scale at an unprecedented pace. 96 elephants are killed every day in Africa, which represents 30 000 elephants killed annually only for their ivory and other trophies like tail. The engine of international traffic is the direct cause of the massive decline in elephant populations across Africa.
The UN estimates that Africa has already lost 50-90% of its elephants. Without intervention, and strong will of African States, the extinction of the species will happen in 10 years. As a reminder, the illegal wildlife trade is an organized transnational crime which occupies the 5th place of the illicit trade in the world (after Drugs, weapons, money laundering and human trafficking) according to the United Nations Congress on Crime and amassing illegal profits of about $19 billion each year. Ivory notably allows to finance well-known terrorist groups like Al Shaabab, the LRA, the Jenjawids. Today, there is evidence that the explosion of ivory trafficking undermines the stability and security of African states because poachers and traffickers have firepower increasingly important and because it is bound to traffic to finance terrorism and wars in some African regions. The Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon stated: “Illegal wildlife trade is a serious threat to security, stability, the economy, natural resources and the cultural heritage of many African countries.”
In 2013 Boubadjidaau northern Cameroon, the Jenjawids, southern Sudanese rebel militias massacred 400 elephants for their ivory, other products such as tails are recovered and are sold smuggling everywhere, may be to Senegal. Some of the accused had jewelers suppliers in Cameroon is how these products may come directly from an action related to terrorists. Everywhere, more and more Africans States take the path of suppression of international trafficking of species. We are witnessing everywhere arrests, multiplication and heavier prison sentences, to law enforcement, seizure and destruction of confiscated products.
Senegal, will it be left behind?