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Contact: Naftali Honig
Phone: (+242) 05.752.15.24
19 November 2013
Two ivory traffickers transferred to Brazzaville Prison
Sentenced on November 7, 2013 by the Ouesso Court in northern Congo for collectively illegally detaining 20 tusks of ivory, a leopard skin and an illegal firearm, Abdoulaye Mahamat and Dissaka Daring have been transferred from Ouesso to Brazzaville Prison on November 17th 2013. They will each serve 3 years in prison.
For more than a decade, Congolese Justice was not sufficiently able to deter Mr. Abdoulaye Mahamat from ivory traffic. Born in Chad, Abdoulaye has lived in Congo for many years where he has continually trafficked ivory and been arrested at least three times, possibly more, and convicted twice.
When arrested in 2011, a colleague named Hassan who he was sentenced together with was also found in possession of 7.62x39mm bullets. He trafficked these to furnish poachers so that they could shoot elephants.
The Yaoundé Declaration, where the Republic of Congo was present, recently named elephants Universal Heritage. Traffickers like Abdoulaye, unfortunately, continually massacre this heritage.
In 2011, Abdoulaye was also transferred from Ouesso to Brazzaville Prison. That time, he was transferred with 4 park rangers, each sentenced to 2 years in prison, for having aided Dissaka Daring in transporting ivory and an AK assault rifle. Abdoulaye was sentenced to 18 months in prison and Dissaka to 12 months.
Once again, Dissaka and Abdoulaye find themselves together at the Brazzaville Prison, this time serving three (3) years each.
Congolese law is strong for the Central African sub-region. Multiple wildlife criminals have been sentenced to the maximum penalty of five years in prison. This sentence has been handed down in Congo 5 times in 2013 alone, but never by the Ouesso Court.
This time, PROGEPP, a partnership of the Government of Congo, WCS, and the logging company CIB, intercepted Dissaka Daring with 16 tusks destined for Abdoulaye. Abdoulaye was, in turn, arrested following a search of his home by Police, which revealed another 4 tusks and a leopard skin.
PALF, which follows such cases in court, preventing attempts at corruption, supported a second search of Abdoulaye’s home by the Police.
At the same time, the Ouesso Court has another major case in its hands concerning two Chinese citizens arrested in northern Congo for possession of ivory after having purchased the ivory from local poachers.
On November 18, 2013, the Brazzaville Court also dealt with a very important ivory case. For weeks, this case has been halted by the Prosecutors in Brazzaville, who have not provided a document to the Court that the Judges have long requested. A strong peddling of influence and abuse of power interfering in the Congolese system of Justice have marked this case from the very first day. The lawyer defending the case declared that a « human blockage » prevented the arrest of Mr. Ikama, the large-scale ivory trafficker who was arrested in 2008 and almost arrested again in March 2013 if it hadn’t been for the corruption.
Like Abdoulaye, Mr. Ikama was sentenced to a light penalty following his previous arrest, which did not dissuade him from these illegal activities. Indeed, elephants depend on Justice to play its role to the maximum in order to give biodiversity the protection it deserves.
Projet d’appui à l’Application de la Loi sur la Faune sauvage (PALF
): PALF has been working in Republic of Congo since 2008. PALF is a joint initiative between the Congolese Ministry of Forestry and Sustainable Development (MEFDD), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and The Aspinall Foundation (TAF).