South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN) in collaboration with Nepal Office of Attorney General, the Government of Nepal and United Nations Office on Drugs Control (UNODC) with support from U. S. Department of State, and Global Wildlife Program, the World Bank organized a 'Second Regional Workshop on the Prosecution of Serious Forms of Wildlife Crime' on 3-5 July 2019 in Kathmandu, Nepal. The major objectives of this workshop include building a stronger national prosecution and encourage international cooperation among South Asian countries as well as network building, case advisory and promotion of regional legal standards.
A brief inauguration ceremony was organized in chairpersonship of Mr. Man Bahadur Khadka, Chief Enforcement Coordinator (CEC) of SAWEN and Director General of Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) in presence of the chief guest honorable Mr. Agni Prasad Kharel, Attorney General, Nepal Office of Attorney General. Mr. Jorge Eduardo Rios, Chief, Global Programme for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime, UNODC welcomed all the participants coming from seven SAWEN member countries. Recalling the previous workshop discussion and outcomes, Mr. Rios brought into notice of the participants to the countries' action plan and requested all for sharing action plan implementation status.
Addressing the ceremony, the Chief Guest, honorable Mr. Agni Kharel highlighted that prosecutors and judges play a crucial role in wildlife criminal justice at the national level but are also crucial to facilitate and promote legal assistance among countries to get adequate conviction against transnational syndicates. "This regional conference is an attempt to have a collective regional dialogue to explore as a region the international best practices in the prosecution of wildlife trafficking, including through international cooperation, the seriousness of wildlife crimes, possible ways to get a better sentencing, the Mutual Legal Assistance requests and challenges, and the broader international assistance in wildlife crime prosecution", said Mr. Kharel.
Chairperson of the program, Mr. Khadka reiterated that rigorous actions through cooperation and collaboration among associated agencies and partner organizations are current need to fight against wildlife crime and hold strong belief that the workshop would foster the existing mutual cooperation to next level by strengthening the relation in terms of knowledge, sharing successful practices and more. He has extended special thanks to the chief guest, honorable judges, prosecutors, facilitators for joining the meaningful workshop and donor partners for their financial support.
Honorable judges and prosecutors from seven SAWEN member countries- Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka took part in the workshop. Facilitator led discussion on various issues including prosecution measures, mutual legal assistance, admissible evidences, and more were discussed. Group discussion, lecture series, and mock court hearing were the major modality of the workshop. Participants had understanding on the good practices, development areas, challenges to combat wildlife crime at regional level. Participants were keen to establish and engage in a South Asia wildlife prosecution formal/informal network with channels for coordination among countries and identified roles for disseminating information along the chain of prosecution.
This was the follow up workshop and the previous regional workshop on the 'prosecution of serious forms of wildlife crime' was designed and held in December 2018 in Paro, Bhutan. The workshop enabled participants from six South Asia countries - Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka - to explore as a region the international good practices in the prosecution of wildlife trafficking, including through international cooperation, the seriousness of wildlife crimes, possible ways to get better sentencing, the mutual legal assistance, and the broader international assistance in wildlife crime prosecution.
An informal closing session was organized on the last day of program. Participants were enthusiastic to share the experiences and knowledge they gathered during the workshop. They put forward their commitment to work in collaboration with relevant stakeholders in national level reflecting the nature of wider involvement of organized criminal networks. The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (US Department of State), Global Wildlife Program and the World Bank Group financially supported the program.