National Protected Area Authority (NPAA) yesterday 12th July 2017 at the Police Officers’ Mess Kingtom in Freetown has ended a two days training workshop for Prosecutors and Investigators of the Sierra Leone Police on protected area crimes of the country.
The Inspector General of the Sierra Leone Police, Mr. Francis Munu at the commencement of the training, he thanked the National Protected Area Authority for organizing the training. He added that the training will help in capacitating his men to be fully equipped with the legislation of the National Protected Area Authority and it will be useful in executing their duties especially in investigating and prosecuting cases on the National Protected Area Authority.
The Inspector General of the Sierra Leone Police concluded by saying that the unregulated use of the environment is causing serious threat to people and the environment and he therefore urged his men to take the training seriously as they are the first set of people to benefit from such training.
The Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Protected Area Authority (NPAA) Dr. Nana C.E Pratt disclosed that the National Protected Area Authority (NPAA) as a conservationist institution thought it fit to work with many stakeholders including communities.
However, she said that the law enforces, investigators, prosecutors, the judiciary have ignored the issues of law enforcement in wildlife conservation of the country. She went on to say that because of those gaps, they realized that there is need for them to take a more holistic approach in the engagement of law enforcers to effectively and efficiently protect our Protected Areas and conserve our rich biodiversity especially areas declared as the Western Area Peninsular Park which are under serious threat. She added that the training of trainers workshop is aimed at strengthening the law enforcement through judicial intervention and in due course the training will be replicated the trainers in the regions.
She went further to say that the NPAA have recognized the role of the Sierra Leone Police in combating Protected Area Crimes and protecting the protected Areas cannot be undermined or marginalized and that is why they organized the training. Dr. Nana Pratt added that the result of the workshop will hugely contribute to enhance the capacity of the Sierra Leone Police to ensure efficacious investigations and prosecutions that would secure deterrent sentencing for Protected Areas Crimes.
The Minister of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment Madam Finda Diana Konomanyi during the official opening of the workshop said that fundamental principles in natural resources management and protected area management has to be done collectively including the political focal points, policy makers, the Sierra Leone Police opinion leaders, leaders at communities in and around the resource and Civil Society organizations. She congratulated the Chairperson and staff of NPAA and the Conservation Trust Fund for organizing the training of trainers’ workshop for the Sierra Leone Police in relevant legislations in protected area management.
She disclosed that the area of forest in the country is been reduced considerably with less than 5% of the original forest remaining in isolated reserves on top of mountains and hillsides. The Honorable Minister of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment, Madam Finda Diana Konomanyi urged the participants to make good use of the training to help reduce and enforce the laws of the Protected Area Crimes.
Honorable Rosaline J. Smith head of Committee of Lands at the House of Parliament said that the issue of managing the Protected Area involves several sectors. She disclosed that because people are neglecting the idea of protecting the Protected Area, the forest and wildlife have been constantly endangered. She concluded that the training is in right direction and she hope that the outcome of the training will be implemented adding that the training should be extended to other sectors including members of parliament.
At the end of the training, participants (members of the Sierra Leone Police) expressed gratification to the management and staff of the National Protected Area Authority for the training in equipping them with the Legislations of the National Protected Area Crimes and with the necessary savvy in investigating and prosecuting cases on the National Protected Area of the country.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.