A brief explanation of our structure:
PALF is a collaboration between 3 structures, who together, signed an MoU on its implementation.
1. MEFDD: The Congolese Ministry of Forest Economy and Sustainable Development (Ministère de l’Économie Forestière et du Développement Durable), the Congolese ministry in charge of wildlife, protected areas, forestry and a wide range of other forest issues
The Congolese government and NGOs with long-term experience in Congo recognized the need for improvement in the application of wildlife law, so the Republic of Congo became the first country to replicate the very successful model formulated by LAGA, Last Great Ape Organization, in Cameroon. LAGA, PALF and other homologous projects continue to share information in order to build upon the experiences of other similar projects.
PALF partners with other NGOs operating in Congo as well, and also works together with the CNLCCF: National Commission for the Fight against Corruption, Embezzlement and Fraud (Commission Nationale de Lutte contre la Corruption, la Concussion et la Fraude). The CNLCCF is a Congolese governmental organ which aims to improve governance in Congo by combatting corruption.
If illegal wildlife criminals feel a sense of impunity and there is little risk involved in wildlife trade, then it seems logical that illegal wildlife trade will thrive, so our strategy is to put an end to that sense of impunity and by helping Congo work towards better application of wildlife law, poachers and illegal traffickers will be less likely to undertake these crimes against nature.
What we have going for us is that the existing law against the illegal killing of a number of species at risk from illegal wildlife trade, such as elephants, gorillas and chimpanzees, are already protected under Congolese law. Sentences may range up to five years in prison with fines up to 5 million francs CFA (over 7600 €), plus damages.
What we have against us is a major lack of precedents for a whole number of reasons. Lack of proper training for key players in combatting wildlife crime; lack of conviction on the importance of biodiversity; or, perhaps the most difficult to battle, the corruption.
From even before an arrest takes place to after a wildlife criminal is sentenced, corruption degrades the Congo’s system of justice, not just for wildlife-related cases, but across the board. So this is why we fight corruption in order to save wildlife. We believe that if justice is served, wildlife criminals will be dissuaded from their crimes.
So how do we fight corruption? Each case is followed from early on, and acts of corruption or even potential acts are identified and a team of PALF legal experts addresses the issues at hand directly, doing what is necessary to put the case back into legality, free from the trafficking of influence, bribery, abuse of governmental power or any other forms of corruption which we observe on the ground.
We investigate wildlife trade and work with the Congolese police forces to get illegal traffickers arrested, we follow the cases from start to finish, and we inform the media of what is going on so that the developments and improvements in the rule of law are broadcasted to the widest audience possible.
For more information about the difference branches, or Departments, of PALF, click here.