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21 Feb, 2024


NTNC, together with the Ministry of Forests and Environment (MOFE) and the Judges’ Society of Nepal, organized a day-long conference on wildlife conservation and environmental justice at NTNC’s central office on 17 February 2024. The conference is part of the wildlife crime control project of NTNC supported by the U.S. Department of State: Bureau of International Narcotics & Law Enforcement (INL).

The Rt.Hon. President of Nepal, Ramchandra Paudel, presided over the event as chief guest, with special guest as the Rt. Hon. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nepal, Bishowambhar Prasad Shrestha. 
The Rt. Hon. President lauded the important timing of the conference, noting the increasing threats to the natural environment, human health and wildlife safety from climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss. He acknowledged the organizers for the collaborative effort.

In his speech, the Rt. Hon. Chief Justice underscored Nepal’s important affiliations, contributions, and stakeholding to various international instruments promoting environmental justice, wildlife conservation and sustainable human development

Besides the Rt. Hon. President and Chief Justice, speakers at the opening session included the Chairperson of the Judges’ Society of Nepal and Justice of the Supreme Court, Hon. Mrs. Sapana Pradhan Malla, the Minister for Forests and Environment Hon. Birendra Prasad Mahato, Attorney General Hon. Dr. Dinamani Pokharel, Chairperson of NTNC Dr. Krishna Prasad Oli, MOFE Secretary Dr. Deepak Kumar Kharal, and U.S. Ambassador to Nepal H.E. Dean R. Thompson. The welcome address was made by the General Secretary of the Judges’ Society of Nepal and Hon. Judge (President) of the Special Court Mr. Tek Narayan Kunwar.

Other high-level guests included Hon. Justices of the Supreme Court of Nepal, the Hon. Attorney General, among participants including, the Hon. Chief Judge High Court, Patan, Hon. Judges of the High Court, Special Court, and the judges of district courts of Kathmandu Valley, government attorneys, with more than 160 representations from the judicial and prosecuting community of Nepal.

Following the opening session, a presentation highlighting major wildlife crime control activities being conducted with the support of INL project, and in cooperation with Judges’ Society of Nepal, was made by Senior Conservation Officer Mr. Ambika Prasad Khatiwada on behalf of NTNC. 

The main conference component featured three thematic presentations, discussion and Q&A sessions aimed at engaging understanding and perspectives of varied judicial stakeholders. It is seen as a critical first initiative for enhancing wildlife conservation and environmental justice in Nepal. 

The first session titled “National and International Efforts in Wildlife Conservation and Challenges in Conservation for Environmental Justice” was presented by Dr. Deepak Kumar Kharal, Secretary of the Ministry of Forests and Environment. The session was chaired by Dr. Krishna Prasad Oli, Chairperson of NTNC; principal commentator being the Hon. Justice of the Supreme Court, Mr. Tek Prasad Dhungana.

The second session titled “Judicial Perspectives in Wildlife and Biodiversity Conservation” was presented by the Hon. Justice of the Supreme Court, Dr. Ananda Mohan Bhattarai. This session was chaired by Hon. Senior Justice of the Supreme Court, Mr. Ishwar Prasad Khatiwada; principal commentator being the Hon. Justice of the Supreme Court, Mrs. Sapana Pradhan Malla.

The third session titled “Experiences and Problem-Solving Methods Adopted for the Initiation and Redressal of Wildlife Crime Related Offences” comprised four presenters – two district judges, Hon. Mr. Basu Dev Neupane and Hon. Ms. Shakuntala Karki, Joint Attorney from the Office of the Attorney General, Mr. Surya Raj Dahal, and park warden Dr. Ganesh Panta. Hon. Justice of the Supreme Court, Mr. Til Prasad Shrestha, chaired and commented on the session.

Major talking points and/or positions obtained from the conference:

  • Expression of need to make coordination with public prosecutor more effective while investigating cases of wildlife crime, and to organize such conferences between the justice administering courts and relevant stakeholders from time to time.
  • To strengthen the administration of justice, there is a need for a separate Forensic Lab for wildlife crime control and investigation in Nepal.
  • Emphasis to be put on administering justice prioritizing both Anthropocentric and Eco-centric principals and approaches while adjudicating wildlife crime offenses; right to human dignity noted as fundamental of fundamental rights; right to clean environment noted a fundamental constitutional right; principal of human rights and principal of ‘in dubio pro natura’ advocated.
  • Existing laws related to forests and wildlife conservation to be made more human rights-friendly; to revise provisions of the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act that may violate and/or undermine human rights.
  • Given the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) is an institution established by the law of Nepal, emphasis to be made on addressing its roles and functions more appropriately when creating laws related to forest and wildlife.
  • Interministerial law and regulation anomalies, clarity of laws and regulation cited; issues of harmonizing policy and practice required to be addressed.
  • Recognizing the important role and potential of Indigenous and Traditional Knowledge in forest and wildlife crime, such knowledge systems and practices should be documented and promoted.
  • Wildlife crime and demography: Noting facts, so far out of the 16 cases of forest and wildlife crimes decided by the court in the last one year, out of which 2 were acquitted, all of the 14 prosecutions made successfully comprised of backward and poor indigenous tribal communities. Such communities are seen to increasingly fall victims to wildlife criminal networks, demonstrating the criminalization of poverty. Emphasis made to focus future wildlife crime related investigations and prosecutions on higher culprits, those who incite to commit crimes and those who trade.
  • Other countries, including neighboring countries, have provisioned separate forest and wildlife-related laws targeting indigenous and tribal communities, demonstrating the need for such laws in Nepal as well.
  • Emphasis that judges and judicial stakeholders, as environmental crime and justice interfacers, need to be increasingly versed and sensitive to environmental issues, especially where the ‘Right of Nature’ approach, a position that natural resources have their own rights, is seen increasingly advocated and practiced.
  • Emphasis on ensuring a separate legal provision related to fake wildlife parts and wildlife counterfeiting offenses.
  • Crime investigation and prosecution are advised to be more scientific and technology-backed; to conduct wildlife crime investigations using the help of evidence-based technologies to make the investigation work substantive, accountable, responsive, and of high quality.
  • Conduct research on existing laws related to wildlife conservation and environmental justice. Similarly, study the case laws to explore new principles laid down by the Supreme Court regarding these concerns. Publish the research report and make recommendation and forward it to the parliament for further necessary amendment to reform laws.
  • There is a need to invest in capacity building and training of investigators and legal prosecutors; need for ensuring adequate legal training and process diligence of investigation personnel(s); capacity building programs should be conducted periodically for the staff conducting investigations related to wildlife crime.
  • Other legal case discussion and experience sharing (on natural resources, land utilization and environmental integrity); discussion of court orders and interim orders issued; future laws provisioning and best practices.


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