Prosecutors’ Workshop Strengthens Fight against Illegal Killing of Birds in the Mediterranean

Bonn, 14 May 2018 - From 9 to 11 May 2018, a workshop for prosecutors and investigators on wildlife crime took place in Valsaín, Segovia, Spain. The workshop was jointly organized by the “Wildlife Crime” Working Group of the European Network of Prosecutors for the Environments (ENPE) and the CMS Secretariat.

The workshop brought together prosecutors and investigators responsible for the enforcement against environmental and wildlife crime from 17 countries, mostly from the Mediterranean region, including North Africa and Middle East, as well as legal experts from ENPE. The goal was to provide guidance and build capacity for reinforcing the prosecution of illegal killing, taking and trade of migratory birds (IKB). The meeting was addressed by officials of Spain, including the Director-General of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment, Mr. Francisco Javier Cachón de Mesa, and Mr. Antonio Vercher, Chief Prosecutor for the Environment in Spain, and by key note presentations of representatives of the European Commission, UNEP/CMS and BirdLife International.

The diverse programme of the workshop provided an overview of IKB and the legal systems in place for combating it in different countries within the Mediterranean region under the obligations of international legal frameworks such as the EU Birds Directive and international conventions. Case studies presented by members of specialized enforcement and anti-poaching units gave detailed insights into strategies and methods applied, and data sources used for investigations, and also  highlighted the difficulties prosecutors and investigators face. Other presentations provided examples of successful training activities, education and awareness-raising campaigns and opportunities for international cooperation. The creation of an online platform to report cases of IKB in Tunisia, as a result of an agreement between the General Directorate of Forests and Les Amis des Oiseaux, the BirdLife partner in Tunis, was particularly welcomed.

One session of the workshop discussed the possibilities of cooperation between prosecutors and investigators on one hand and NGOs, introduced by key note presentation from the Spanish Ornithological Society (SEO/BirdLife Spain). The session identified skills that NGOs can contribute in tackling IKB, and also raised some concerns resulting from experiences which investigators and prosecutors had in this respect. Other special sessions discussed the effectiveness of penalties and sanctions, i.e. imprisonment and fines, under the circumstances of the legal systems in different countries, and cases of CITES offences with relevance to IKB.

There was overall agreement that the creation of a dedicated environmental prosecutor in all countries would greatly enhance the fight against IKB and contribute to achieve a higher number of convictions. Addressing wildlife crime requires specific training and this workshop was an important first step.

As an output of this workshop, a training package will be compiled by ENPE and CMS, which will enable prosecutors and investigators to transfer the messages and findings to the national level. The very positive feedback included several participants declaring that they would develop and propose changes to their national legislation to the relevant ministries and authorities in their countries to increase the effectiveness in the prosecution of IKB. The delegates were also in favour of intensifying international cooperation beyond the European network. The Intergovernmental Task Force on IKB in the Mediterranean under CMS (MIKT) was perceived as a very successful initiative which can play a vital role in this process, and the positive cooperation with the Bern Convention was highlighted.

For more information, please contact Mr. Tilman Schneider.


The European Commission were recognized as Champion Plus for their generous support and commitment towards addressing Illegal Killing, Taking and Trade of Migratory Birds in the Mediterranean for the period 2015-2018. This activity has been funded with the contribution granted by the European Commission under the Migratory Species Champion Programme and through the Global Public Goods and Challenges (GPGC Programme) Cooperation Agreements with UNEP.

Last updated on 12 September 2018

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