Environment & Climate ChangeNews

Gabon: Environmental Activists Say 1 Year Jail Term For Ivory Traffickers Not Enough

Environmental protection non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have expressed dissatisfaction with the one-year jail term imposed on five ivory traffickers recently arrested and tried in Gabon. 

The traffickers were jailed by a tribunal in the country’s capital Libreville on August 14, 2020.

According to the NGO Conservation Justice, the one-year imprisonment decided by the Libreville court is a far cry from the jail terms provided for in the Gabonese penal code which prescribes jail terms of up to ten years for trafficking in ivory.

“On the illicit international market of flora and fauna products, repeated offenders usually return after serving only a few months in prison”, declared a spokesperson for Conservation Justice.

The environmental protection NGO spokesperson said the legislators in Congo and Cameroon are conscious of the nefarious effects of the illegal trade in flora and fauna on environmental protection, which is why they legislated that imprisonment for illicit traffic in ivory is ten years.

The traffickers, Idriss Tidjani, Alemand Makaya, Abdoulaye Tuetilika, Golsman Mondjo and Jeanne Koumba were found guilty of possessing and attempting to sell the ivory of totally protected animal species.

The first trial involving Idriss Tidjani and Alemand Makaya saw the two being sentenced to one year imprisonment plus a fine of 1.1 million FCFA (about US$2,200) each. 

They were also ordered to pay damages of three million FCFA (about US$6,000) to the Water and Forestry administration.

The two were arrested in Tchibanga on July 10, 2020 in possession of four elephant tusks and sixteen hippopotamus teeth.

In the second trial, Abdoulaye Guetilika, Golsman Mondjo and Jeanne Koumba were sentenced to two years imprisonment with one year suspended. 

They were also ordered to pay a fine of 1.4 million FCFA (about US$2,534) each and 3 million FCFA (about US$6,000) damages to the Ministry of Water and Forestry.

The three were arrested on July 13, 2020 in Mouila and were charged for possessing three elephant tusks which they were trying to sell.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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