Forestry Stakeholders Drilled on Court Operations

"Evidence is important to secure convictions in forestry crimes" Gamaliel. "Evidence is important to secure convictions in forestry crimes" Gamaliel.

Various stakeholders engaged in the protection of forest reserves in Mzimba have been drilled on how courts operate in the prosecution of offenders who have committed forest-related crimes.

First Grade Magistrate Radson Gamaliel said this follows allegations that courts are not meting out stiffer punishments to forest crime offenders.

"The main aim is to sensitize stakeholders on the importance of bringing sufficient and relevant evidence during trials for the prosecution to secure convictions of people accused of forest related crimes," said Magistrate Gamaliel.

Gamaliel said there have been a number of gaps regarding evidence brought to court in forest-related cases which compromise the efficacy of the prosecution to secure convictions.

On accusations that courts are meting out soft punishments to offenders of forest crimes, Gamaliel said there are a lot of factors that influence the courts when sentencing offenders of forest crimes.

Gamaliel was speaking on the sidelines of an orientation organized with support from Governance for Solutions with funding from USAID which pulled together officers from the forest department, judiciary, police and civil society organizations among others.

Mzimba forestry officer Isaac Baloyi says the meeting was an eye opener on how courts work especially on conserving evidence that can prove cases of forest crimes during court proceedings.

"This has been an eye opener in the sense that as forest officers we always thought courts are not meting out stiff punishments to those caught commiting forest crimes but now we understand why this is so and we also know the importance of conserving important evidence regarding cases," said Baloyi.

Mzimba police station officer Horace Chabuka said the training has helped in clearing misconceptions on how courts work, especially when presiding over forest crimes.

"This is very important for all stakeholders to understand how courts work this will help to clear or misconceptions that courts are meting out soft punishments to those accused of forest crimes but courts work according to stipulated laws and available evidence," said Chabuka.

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