Wednesday, March 8, 2023

United Nations Office in Drugs and Crime Endorses HKU's KE Species Victim Impact Statement Fund Initiative (Amanda Whitfort)

Associate Professor Amanda Whitfort's KE work on the Species Victim Impact Statement Initiative (a collaboration between the HKU Law Faculty and the School of Biological Sciences' Conservation Forensics Lab) has been endorsed by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Amanda's team prepares species victim impact statements for the most highly endangered animals in illegal trade. These have been used by prosecutors to inform the courts in Hong Kong of the impact of wildlife crime and have led to a 2000% increase in sentences since they were first adopted in 2016.

     Working with the international charity, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), Amanda adapted the victim statements for African pangolin species and elephants for use by prosecutors in Nigerian courts in Africa. The UNODC has now published the species victim impact statements for these species as a recommended tool for effective prosecutions in Nigeria. The victim impact statements appear in the Nigerian Rapid Reference Guide for Prosecutors and Investigators of Wildlife Crime, which was launched by the Nigerian Minister of the Environment on World Wildlife Day, 3 March 2023. 

       The development of the Rapid Reference Guide for prosecutors and investigators is one of the key deliverables of the National Strategy to Combat Wildlife and Forest Crime in Nigeria 2022- 2026. This National Strategy is the first of its kind, with a five year plan to lay the foundation for sustained efforts towards achieving wildlife conservation in Nigeria.

     The HKU SVIS Initiative is proud to be impacting justice responses to wildlife crime globally. Amanda is now working with judges, prosecutors and law enforcement in ten countries ensuring this HKU funded Knowledge Exchange initiative continues to support the protection of endangered species around the world.

      Amanda has spoken about the project in a guest blog for the EIA published on their website this week.

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