Infos Togo

Slight sanction against three ivory traffickers

Publié le samedi 24 juillet 2021, par Gabinho

The harmful role played by traffickers of endangered species has led the various governments of Togo, not only to establish legal texts sanctioning the illegal trafficking of protected species, but also to ratify several international agreements in order to protect endangered species. endangered animal, plant and marine.

Yet traffickers still use all means to engage in illegal transactions in endangered species products. And, justice is not left out, it is also on a crusade against wildlife crime, but when the traffickers are apprehended and the sentence is not entirely dissuasive, it can only lead the traffickers to do of Togo, a hub of illicit and illegal trafficking in endangered species. Indeed, on April 14, 2021, the agents of the Central Office for the Repression of Illicit Trafficking in Drugs and Laundering (OCRTIDB) and the Ministry of Environment and Forest Resources (MERF) in collaboration with EAGLE-Togo, arrested in Lomé, three suspected traffickers in possession of six elephant tusks.

These traffickers were placed under arrest warrant on April 20, 2021, after being placed in police custody and then presented to the prosecutor and admitted the charges against them. On June 11, the named BOUKARI Alassani, IDRISS Ali and TAMPALI Mamadou, were sentenced to six months in prison with four months suspended for possession, circulation and illegal marketing of wildlife products. A decision not too dissuasive, when one refers to legal sanctions related to the same case of wildlife crime in other neighboring countries like Benin. However, the new penal code of Togo, in its environmental component strengthens the protection of fauna and flora. Article 761 of this code provides : "The destruction and commercialization, direct or indirect, without right of animal or plant species protected under the laws and regulations in force and international conventions to which the Republic of Togo is a party. punished by a penalty of one to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of one million to fifty million without prejudice to any other provision of this code ”.

The absence or weak enforcement of the law encourages illegal wildlife trafficking, which then becomes an alternative to other crimes, such as drug trafficking or human trafficking. Indeed, in Benin, not long ago, the Natitingou court by judgment sentenced a trafficker of two elephant tusks, a fully protected species, to 48 months’ imprisonment. He must also pay a fine of 300,000 FCFA and a sum of 3,000,000 FCFA for damages. On the other hand in Togo, for this same fact, with more elephant tusks, a total of six elephant tusks, the courts sentenced the traffickers to six months in prison with four months suspended for detention. Also last January in Benin, the Parakou Court of First Instance sentenced two traffickers of two elephant tusks to 60 months’ imprisonment.

They are then ordered to pay a fine of 500,000 FCFA and to pay the sum of 2,000,000 FCFA for damages. This is proof that justice still holds fast to "zero tolerance" for anyone who sets out to destroy wildlife. In Togo, article 761 of the new penal code is very clear, but we often see that judges apply article 796 of the same code : “Anyone who circulates, sells, imports, exports or passes wild animals in transit, living, trophies without authorization is punishable by imprisonment from one to six months and a fine of one hundred thousand to five hundred thousand CFA francs or one of these two penalties ”. So we see a scale of wildlife crime cases. In Lomé, the Court of First Instance, convicted in January 2021, the named BOUYO Essozimna, GAGNON Kodjo, ASSIH Manèyassouwé, ZODOGADJI Grégoire and AYAVI Koffi Agossou for illegal trade in three large elephant tusks. By way of damages, they were also ordered to pay jointly a sum of 5 million CFA francs to the civil party, the Ministry of the Environment and Forest Resources (MERF). DAGLO Kossi (great witch doctor), was released, because the facts according to the judge, not being established in his regard.

AYAVI Koffi Agossou of Beninese nationality, was sentenced to six months in prison including two months of suspension and to pay a fine of 300,000 CFA francs, ASSIH Manèyassouwé, was sentenced to six months in prison including three months of suspension and to pay a fine of 100,000 CFA francs and the other three (ZODOGADJI Grégoire of Beninese nationality, BOUYO Essozimna and GAGNON Kossi, all of Togolese nationality), were sentenced to six months in prison including a two-month suspension and to pay a fine of 200,000 francs each.

It should be noted that dissuasive decisions participate in the fight against wildlife crime and the protection of wildlife heritage for which international NGOs including EAGLE-Togo, continue to renew their technical support to the government to restore hope for the survival of endangered species. extinction. If the judge’s hand becomes heavy and more exemplary sanctions are applied, as is the case in other countries such as Benin, traffickers will think several times, before wanting to commit their crimes of wildlife again. whatever they are.

It is therefore obvious that when the perpetrators of crimes related to wildlife are less likely to be arrested in Togo, they can only make this country again today, a paradise for the great trafficking of protected wildlife. Because, they will only have one thing on their mind, and that is to be relatively doomed to lenient sentences. Remember that the illegal trafficking of wild species, considered an important asset by many communities, destroys natural resources. Justice must always be cracked down to deter other potential wildlife criminals.