Guideline allows comprehensive sentencing for S’wak wildlife crimes
Desiree David, Borneo Post
June 17, 2022
KUCHING: Sarawak courts now have a comprehensive sentencing for wildlife
crimes now that the ‘Sentencing Guidelines for Wildlife Crimes in Sarawak’
document has been launched.
Chief Justice of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Dato Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim
was on hand to launch the document at the court complex here yesterday.
The Sentencing Guidelines for Wildlife Crimes is an initiative of the
Sarawak High Court through Sarawak Working Group on Environment (SWGE),
which started in 2020 with technical support from World Wildlife
According to WWF-Malaysia executive director Sophia Lim in her welcoming
remarks presented by its conservation director Dr Henry Chan during the
launch yesterday, the document was a significant progress in the state’s
effort to address the challenges in meting out consistent and appropriate
sentences on offenders of wildlife crime.
“The illegal wildlife trade is huge and is worth tens of billions, and
globally, it ranks fourth after drugs, human trafficking, and arms
“We are delighted that the courts in Sarawak are seeing the gravity of
wildlife crimes and are doing their very best to improve their knowledge
and help save our wildlife,” she said.
Lim also hoped that imposing a heavy penalty in appropriate cases would go
a long way to deter wildlife crimes from recurring.
“Together with SWGE, we thank all participating agencies notably the state
Attorney-General Chambers and Sarawak Forestry Corporation for providing
valuable statistics and input during the formulation of the guideline,” she
The Environmental Court was established on Sept 3, 2012 to ensure
uniformity of decision-making on environmental cases, besides improving the
administration of justice in such cases.
Sentences meted out for wildlife crime cases by the courts however are
inconsistent and therefore, insufficient to deter such crimes from
recurring, which would result in potential irreversible loss of wildlife
Therefore, a series of consultations to review the guideline were held this
year involving the judiciary, wildlife law enforcement agencies, and
environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
The guidelines will assist judges pass fair and consistent sentences which
commensurate with the nature of wildlife crime and also help advance the
implementation of the environmental court in the state.
While these guidelines can be binding upon the courts, they are permitted
to depart from the guidelines whenever appropriate and exercise judicial
discretion on the sentencing.
Head of SWGE Judge Jason Juga, Sarawak Courts director Judge Steve Ritikos,
and registrar of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak Judge Nixon Kennedy
Kumbong were also present at the launching ceremony.