The Environment Protection Agency Sierra Leone on Monday 27th July signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Sierra Leone Police with the aim of tackling environmental crimes across the country.
The MOU, which was signed by the Executive Chairman of the EPASL and the Inspector General of Police is aimed at building effective synergies for the investigation and prosecution of environmental crimes across the country. It will also enhance the sharing of information on key environmental issues such as banned, controlled and hazardous substances and their impact on the environment and to develop credible pathways for compliance with and enforcement of the legal and regulatory framework relating to the aforementioned issues.
Furthermore, this MOU would lend credence to the implementation of multilateral environmental agreements to which Sierra Leone is a party. The principles guiding the implementation of the MOU would include service to the safety and health of the people and the environment; transparency and accountability and respect for institutional mandates and leadership.
While delivering his statement, the Executive Chairman of the EPASL, Dr. Bondi Gevao said our country’s forests were being depleted as a result of illegal and unregulated timber logging, charcoal production and the unsustainable mining on our river beds, to name but a few. These and other anthropogenic activities were having a telling effect on our country’s ability to effectively deal with climate change issues and also affecting the capacity of our forests to provide their numerous services for human survival and development and accelerating the levels of flooding and erosion in all parts of the country, Dr Bondi Gevao further stated.
The EPASL boss also noted that ‘‘the nature and quality of our soil is being altered as a result of quarrying activities, chemical use in agricultural and industrial activities, unsustainable farming practices including shifting cultivation, irresponsible bush burning and construction of houses in wetland and hilltop areas” and that this was having a devastating impact on food production and water supply as well.
The Inspector General of Police, Ambros Michael Sovula expressed appreciation for the MOU and noted that this was a step in the direction of effective environmental protection in the country. He said under his leadership, the Sierra Leone Police would lend its maximum support to the Environment Protection Agency to tackle environmental challenges across the country with the ultimate aim of increasing environmental compliance in the country. He also reiterated the fact that environmental threats were increasing in the country and that these threats were potential sources of disaster in the country. He encouraged all Police Officers to work with the EPASL in implementing the spirit and contents of the MOU across the country.
The IG admonished the leadership of the EPASL to continue engaging other partners so that with their cooperation, it would be much easier to enforce environmental laws in the country. It is anticipated that the MOU would be decentralized at District level to ensure its effective implementation. The Legal Team of the EPASL and the Environmental Crimes Unit of the Sierra Leone Police would take the lead in the implementation of the MOU.
From the Department of Public Relations and Inter-sectoral Collaboration of the Environment Protection Agency Sierra Leone