Kenya: The custodians of the country’s wildlife have proposed tough new changes to over 15 key laws as they seek to give security organs more powers to fight poaching.
Environment Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Director William Kiprono submitted legal proposals to the parliamentary committee on Environment.
They want KWS rangers given powers to prosecute poachers, freeze their accounts and the courts forced to fine polluters of wildlife habitats at least Sh2 million.
They want Treasury to allocate money to KWS and stop relying on tourism proceeds. They also want the regional customs law amended to create a provision that will guide judges on the amount of fines to slap on offenders.
Committee Chairperson Amina Abdalla (nominated) and members Njogu Barua (Gichugu), Chachu Ganya (North Horr), Wilbur Otichillo (Emuhaya), Mohamed Diriye (Wajir South), Ronald Tonui (Bomet Central) and Muluvi Mutua (Kitui East) heard that the Evidence Act should be amended to make digital photographs admissible.
“The amendment should also remove the requirement for admissible photographs to be taken and or processed by gazetted scenes-of-crime officers, as wildlife scenes are very remote and vast and it is sometimes impossible to get such an officer to the scene,” read the brief to the committee.
The Criminal Procedure Code is also set for review to ensure suspects bear the costs of disposal of forfeited goods.
The East Africa Community Customs Management Act sets the fine at a percentage of the value of goods, but with wildlife trophies, there’s no guide to help judges determine the monetary value, mainly because these are sold on the black market.
The PS said even with the strict management of confiscated trophies and other trophies, there is the possibility of the trophies being stolen from Government stores, armouries and exhibit strongrooms.
“The Penal Code should be amended to include an offence of stealing Government trophies from legal custody. Such an offence should have a very high penalty,” the PS said.
The two also want poaching and other wildlife crimes categorised as “economic crimes” as prescribed in the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act.
They want higher fines for those who use poisoned arrows to be prescribed in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
Other laws that need amending are the Environmental Management and Co-ordination Act, Forest Act, Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Act, Prevention of Organised Crimes Act, Physical Planning Act and Prevention of Terrorism Act.