Call for registration: Giving a voice to the unheard victims of environmental crime (22 May 2024)

Illegal wildlife trade is the fourth most lucrative black market for transnational crime. Smuggling of endangered species is a low risk, high-profit crime, made all the more attractive to criminals in the absence of deterrent sentencing and effective enforcement.

To help legal professionals counter wildlife crime, Professor Amanda Whitfort of the Law Faculty has developed an international tool to help judges and prosecutors better understand the harms caused by illegal wildlife trade.  Bringing together law and science, her Species Victim Impact Statements initiative sets out the impacts of wildife crime for over 150 species, providing a voice for animals, plants and ecosystems in the criminal justice system. The SVIS initiative has been endorsed as an effective tool to combat wildlife crime by the United National Office on Drugs and Crime and has been included in the Nigerian Rapid Reference Guide for Prosecutors published in 2023. Professor Whitfort will talk about her approach to educating law enforcement officers in a seminar with the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime this Wednesday 22 May at 4pm. Registration is free and please click here for registration online.

Giving a voice to the unheard victims of environmental crime

A Talk By Amanda Whitfort , Prof Ray Jansen , Alastair MacBeath , Diana Chilambwe , Edward Banda (ACAZ, LLB, Cert) And Ashleigh Dore

22 May 2024

4:00 PM – 5:30 PM HKT

About This Talk

Animals and other species are often voiceless victims of environmental crimes. Such crimes were often marginalized in the legal sphere, treated as minor infractions with little regard for the impact on species and ecosystems. However, a new legal approach is reshaping how these offences are prosecuted and perceived. Species victim impact statements articulate the harm caused by environmental crimes from an animal rights perspective, the detrimental effects on species populations, the broader ecological damage as well as the associated impact on human populations.

This in an innovative approach that introduces eco-centric concerns into anthropocentric legal systems. It has grown into an effective body of practice, leading to increased sentences for environmental crimes in countries where academics and civil society organizations promoting this tactic are operating. The GI-TOC recently published a guide on the experience of those who have successfully developed and used species victim impact statements in Hong Kong, South Africa and Zambia.

This event brings together these experts to discuss why species victim impact statements are necessary, the particular challenges for their respective jurisdictions while offering guidance to assist those looking to develop these statements for use in court.

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