It may create bad precedence for wildlife crime law enforcement

EoF Press Release / 19 October 2009

Pekanbaru, Sumatra – Judges of a court case in Tembilahan District Court, Indragiri Hilir District, Riau, Sumatra last week (Oct 8) sentenced two poachers (M. Ajad bin Abdullah &  Mistar bin Ajad) for 1 year imprisonment and  Rp 2 million fine for  the killing of three Sumatran tigers. However, WWF-Indonesia and forestry officials regretted the decision, saying it might create bad precedence for wildlife crime law enforcement in the country.

The trial against two defendants has taken place following the tiger killings that happened in Kerumutan forest block in District Indragiri Hilir, Riau, February this year. On his verdict, Chief Judge Wasdi Permana, SH, MH stated that the two defendants were proven guilty of poaching and hurting tigers as well as intentionally trading and storing tigers’ skeletons and pelts.

The panel of judges based their verdict on article 40 point 2 of Law No. 5/ 1990 on Conservation of Biological Diversity and its Ecosystem. However, the punishment was less than Prosecutor Hendri Antoro’s prosecution on 14 September 2009 of three years in prison and three million rupiahs in fine.

Trisnu Danisworo, Chief of Riau Nature Conservation Agency (BKSDA Riau), regretted the relatively light punishment, even though he appreciated the law enforcement effort. “Crime on biological diversity especially those protected by law is a serious infringement in forestry sector, therefore we shall support law enforcement efforts made by authorities. Nevertheless, some people believed that the punishment was too light to prevent similar cases in Riau and other parts of Indonesia.”

Danisworo also stated that Riau’s Nature Agency will make an appeal. “We hope that the appeal will lead to a just punishment based on rules and regulations which will prevent others to repeat the infringement, and eventually decreasing illegal poaching and trading of tiger,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ir. Lusman Pasaribu, Head of Forest Investigation and Protection at the Ministry of Forestry believes light punishment will give a bad reputation on nature conservation effort. “We hope law enforcers could provide bigger support for nature conservation efforts in the future”.

The killings of three Sumatran tigers in Tanjung Pasar village, Simpang Pelangiran district, Indragiri Hilir, Riau last February garnered serious attentions from nature and conservation enthusiasts. The three deaths within short spans of time marked one of the worst cases in Indonesia’s conservation efforts.

Maximum penalty shall be the stepping stone to prevent perpetuating violations as weak punishment unable to deter people from illegal poaching and trading resulting in high mortality rate of animals—even those protected by law such as tiger and elephant—in Riau.

Over the last ten years, only two cases brought into court while at least 10 tigers were killed per year.

Chairul Saleh, WWF-Indonesia Endangered Species Conservation Science Coordinator stated his disappointment. “We are disappointed for the light punishment given to the defendants because we believe that this case should be the cornerstone of law enforcement effort against illegal poaching and trading in Riau. Stern punishment will help preventing future infringement that will eventually cut tiger trading network which includes buyers, middleman, and illegal exporters.

Meanwhile Nuskan Syarif (Chief of Nature Study Group in Riau) who made a keen observation of the case says that he expects the appeal made by Riau Nature Conservation Agency will yield maximum penalties for the suspects.

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