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30 November 2012

Mozambique seeks to enhance environmental security with INTERPOL seminar

MAPUTO, Mozambique ‒ Environmental law enforcement authorities in Mozambique have taken the first step towards improving environmental protection in the country, by holding an INTERPOL National Environmental Security Seminar (NESS).

The two-day (19 and 20 November) NESS meeting, hosted by the Ministry of Interior, was attended by officers from seven police agencies in the country, including the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment, and the INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Maputo.

A NESS is the first step in the process of establishing a National Environmental Security Task Force (NEST), an initiative of INTERPOL’s Environmental Crime Programme to bring together all national agencies with responsibility for enforcing environmental laws.

Critical issues such as illegal logging, illegal fishing and elephant and rhinoceros poaching were discussed during the seminar, as well as INTERPOL initiatives such as Project Wisdom and Project LEAF, which are actively supported by the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation.

To improve enforcement, the Mozambique authorities are working to criminalize environmental offences. The representatives expressed a desire to cooperate further with INTERPOL in order to advance environmental law enforcement activities in the country.

“This country’s efforts are giving hope to all the African countries willing to find a solution for reinforcing their capacity in environmental law enforcement,” said David Higgins, head of INTERPOL’s Environmental Crime Programme.

The participants expressed their concerns about a lack of training on environmental law enforcement. In response, INTERPOL will intensify its support to Mozambique, for example through a capacity building session in early 2013.

“Mozambique is willing to progress in order to make environmental law enforcement activities a daily routine. Thanks to the upcoming law enforcement training, INTERPOL is glad to be able to actively support Mozambique’s efforts,” said Marco Araújo de Lima, Operations Manager with the Environmental Crime Programme.

During the seminar, INTERPOL alerted the local authorities to a new concealment method used for the illegal trade of rhino horn that was detected during a recent enforcement operation at the Maputo airport, in which six pieces of rhino horn were seized and one individual arrested.