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Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak the Right Honourable Dato’ Abdul Rahman Sebli graced and presided over a one-day workshop held on 13 May, which aimed at increasing the capacity and knowledge of judges in the state regarding wildlife and its current status.
In his speech, Dato’ Abdul Rahman emphasized the importance for judges to broaden their understanding of wildlife conservation and crimes related to it, to ensure fair sentencing for offenders.
Drawing attention to the severity of wildlife crimes, he underscored the detrimental impact on biodiversity and the threats posed to human health by such activities. He firmly asserted that wildlife crimes should be treated as serious offenses rather than mere civil wrongdoings due to the substantial damage caused by offenders to the environment and the health risks they pose.
To serve as a deterrent, he proposed an amendment to the Wild Life Protection Ordinance 1998 to increase imprisonment terms instead of relying solely on fines as penalties for wildlife crimes.
The workshop, jointly organized by the Sarawak Courts Working Group on Environment (SWGE), Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC), and WWF-Malaysia, showcased their unwavering commitment to wildlife conservation and protection efforts. It was held at SFC’s Kuching Regional Office in Semenggoh.
Esteemed speakers from SFC, WWF-Malaysia, Wildlife Conservation Society-Malaysia Programme and Sarawak State Attorney-General’s Chambers delivered insightful presentations on various topics, including the importance of wildlife conservation and challenges, cultural significance of wildlife, wildlife crimes within the state and in Southeast Asia, enforcement and prosecution activities, as well as relevant laws and regulations. The participants also visited the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre in the afternoon.
The workshop is part of SWGE and WWF-Malaysia ongoing efforts to collaborate with the judiciary and enforcement agencies for better wildlife conservation and protection.
Last year in June, the Sarawak Sentencing Guidelines for Wildlife Crimes were launched in collaboration with SWGE, WWF-Malaysia and SFC. To further improve the understanding of judges on wildlife and its protection in Sarawak, a series of awareness and capacity building activities were proposed as part of their continuous efforts.
Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak the Right Honourable Dato’ Abdul Rahman Sebli addressing participants and speakers at the workshop. Photo © Sarawak Courts Working Group on Environment
Dr Jason Hon, Head of Sarawak Conservation Programme of WWF-Malaysia, presenting an overview on wildlife in Sarawak to participants. Photo © Zora Chan / WWF-Malaysia
Workshop participants, speakers and SWGE committee members posed for a group photo. Photo © Sarawak Courts Working Group on Environment