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Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Congo-Brazzaville

The Constitution of the Congo contains many provisions for the protection of the environment.

Article 41 states that “Every citizen has the right to a healthy, satisfying and durable environment and has the duty of defending it. The State sees to the protection and the conservation of the environment”.

Article 42 reads: “The conditions of storage, of handling, of incineration and of disposal of toxic wastes, pollutants or radioactive [materials] originating from factories and other industrial or artisan sites installed on the national territory, are established by the law. All pollution or destruction resulting from an economic activity gives rise to compensation. The law determines the nature of the compensatory measures and the modalities of their execution.”

Article 43 provides a framework for the “transit, the importation, the storage, landfill, [and] dumping in the continental waters and the maritime spaces under national jurisdiction”.

Featured Legislation

1983: Law No 48/83 was signed, defining the conditions of conservation and exploitation of wildlife. The legislation also makes reference to “Natural Reserves” and reserve management, requiring the participation of local communities in building an integrated system to preserve natural resources.

1991: Law No 003 was introduced to establish supporting texts on environmental protection.

1995: Decree n° 95-245 was approved. This decree sets up chambers of commerce, industry, agriculture and trades. The Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Agriculture and Trades of Brazzaville is responsible for representing the economic interests of trade, industry, agriculture, and crafts and trades. Its missions are: defense of the economic interests of its nationals, promotion of the Congolese economy, training, representation, and arbitration. Four chambers have been created across the Congo: one chamber in Brazzaville, one in Pointe-Noire, one in Dolisie and one in Ouesso. To accomplish their missions, these regional chambers of commerce, industry and agriculture have management bodies such as general assemblies, management boards and executive committees.

2000: The Forest Code (Law No 16-2000) was passed, serving as the key piece of forestry legislation governing the forest sector in the Republic of the Congo.

2002: Decree No 2002-435 was promulgated, determining the duties, organization and operation of the National Center for Inventories and Management of Forest and Wildlife Resources.

2002: Decree No 2002-437 was approved, determining forest management and conditions of use.

2002: Decree No 2002-433 (December 2002) determines organization and operation of water and forest officers.

2008: Law No 37-2008 on Wildlife and Protected Areas was promulgated, prohibiting hunting, fishing, grazing, clearing or exploiting forestry resources without previous authorization from the competent authority.

2009: Order No. 1340 was tabled. This decree creates the special mobile brigade at the General Inspectorate of Forest Economy, responsible for the control of forest and wildlife species on the Congo River and its tributaries, as well as in the department of Brazzaville. The special mobile brigade carries out its control activities in the following areas: logging; industrial processing and marketing of timber; hunting and marketing of wildlife products; collection and marketing of flora products.

2009: Order No 5279 was brought into force, outlining the establishment of a Steering Committee on sustainable management of Congolese forests.

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

  • The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in Congo is applauding a recent decision to sentence Mobanza Mobembo Gerard, also known as Guyvanho, to 30 years in prison for the attempted murder of park rangers and his role in ivory trafficking. Guyvanho has killed more than 500 elephants since 2008 during numerous poaching expeditions and this conviction sets precedence in the fight against wildlife crimes, according to the director WCS for Central Africa. The decision to sentence Guyvanho was decisive, given the mounting evidence demonstrating his involvement in a 2019 incident where members of a ranger patrol in Nouabale-Ndoki National Park were shot at by Guyvanho and other poachers. Nouabale-Ndoki boasts 4,000 square kilometres in the north of the country, serving as refuge for iconic forest elephants. It bears emphasizing that Guyvanho’s trial and sentencing signals the first criminal conviction in Congo Brazzaville of a wildlife trafficker; environmental crimes were previously addressed exclusively in civil courts with a maximum sentence of five years.

References and Further Reading


Directeur Général de l’Environnement, M. Dieudonné Ankara: