Botswana and Poland win INTERPOL award for combating environmental crime

17 March 2010

DOHA, Qatar – The INTERPOL Environmental Crime Programme has presented wildlife crime law enforcement representatives from Botswana and Poland with the INTERPOL Ecomessage Award for their outstanding efforts in combating international wildlife crime.

The EUR 20,000 award is funded by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and is presented to the country or countries which have contributed most significantly to the international exchange of intelligence relating to environmental criminals. Botswana and Poland were recognized, in particular, for the value of their information and their consistency in submitting ecomessages.

“The authorities in Botswana and Poland, from all areas of law enforcement, have shown exemplary dedication to submitting criminal intelligence to INTERPOL, information which can be shared with our 188 member countries and thus play a vital role in combating international wildlife crime,” said INTERPOL Environmental Crime Programme Manager David Higgins as he presented the award in Doha, Qatar, on Wednesday.

“Botswana and Poland are setting a positive example to others that intelligence exchange on international wildlife crime is vital and that it is only by working together, with shared knowledge and resources, that we can build an impenetrable international law enforcement net against environmental criminals,” Mr Higgins added.

The award was presented at the 15th Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in front of representatives of 175 signatory countries and international organizations. The award was given to the INTERPOL National Central Bureaus of Botswana and Poland by Mr Higgins.

"IFAW congratulates Poland and Botswana for embracing Ecomessage and sharing information which enables authorities to crack down on wildlife crime," said Mr Azzedine Downes, Executive Vice-President of IFAW.  "A previous award winner, Kenya, used the award to implement a training programme in subjects as diverse as wildlife forensics, criminal intelligence analysis and human rights and wildlife law enforcement. IFAW is certain that Poland and Botswana will benefit from a similar programme that will help them meet their local enforcement challenges, and we encourage them to continue using Ecomessage to fight the insidious illegal wildlife trade," he concluded.

The Ecomessage system is a standardized form used by member countries to submit intelligence to the INTERPOL General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, where it can be entered into INTERPOL’s databases for analysis and be made available to INTERPOL’s 188 member countries.

The award can be used to conduct training programmes on combating environmental crime and criminals, or it can be used to build law enforcement capacity. The first Ecomessage Award was presented in 2005 to the Kenya Wildlife Service.