MAPUTO– Mozambique’s Attorney-General, Beatriz Buchili, has urged prosecutors from the central provinces in the country to intervene in the battle against environmental crimes, particularly illegal logging.

Speaking at a regional meeting of attorneys in Quelimane, capital of the central province of Zambezia, Buchili also stressed the need for a vigorous fight against human trafficking. She recalled that the victims of this traffic crime often end up dead, as was the case with 22 Ethiopian citizens whose bodies were discovered in December in the bush of Sofala province.

It is believed that the Ethiopians were being taken to South Africa, but suffocated in the back of a truck. The driver of the vehicle then dumped the bodies in the bush.

Buchili said the networks dealing with illegal immigration and human trafficking are large and sophisticated, and district attorneys should play a prominent role in combating this type of crime.

She added that since district courts now have the power to hand down the maximum penalty — usually 24 years imprisonment — prosecutors should play a vigorous role in the courts to ensure tough penalties for human traffickers and for those who devastate the Mozambican environment.

Illegal loggers and illegal mining have a damaging impact on the right to a healthy environment, Buchili said. These crimes usually happen in the districts, and so it was district attorneys who should take the lead role in dealing with them.

We must also look at organized cross-border crimes. The authors of these crimes cross Mozambican borders, and so we must step up cooperation with the prosecutors of other countries,, in terms of mutual legal assistance, she said.