On 21st August 2015 EAGLE (Eco Activists for Governance & Law Enforcement) announced the arrest of Ansoumane Doumbouya, the former head of the CITES Management Authority of Guinea, along with the infamous wildlife trafficker Thierno Barry in Conakry.
Doumbouya has long been known as a key player behind the illegal export of hundreds of chimpanzees and gorillas to China and elsewhere using fraudulent CITES export permits (see The Conakry Connection). Even after he lost his position with CITES he continued to fraudulently sell permits to traffickers to allow them to ship protected wildlife around the world, in spite of the fact that there is currently a CITES suspension of trade from Guinea (PEGAS is in possession of a copy of such a fraudulent permit, signed by Doumbouya a year and a half after he was removed from the CITES office).
Ofir Drori, head of EAGLE, has told PEGAS that there is huge political pressure from high government officials in Guinea to free Doumbouya. Those who wish to see the scourge of great ape trafficking stopped must protest political interference. Read the announcement by Charlotte Houpline, Director of GALF, below:
Today is a special day of victory against high level corruption and complicity.
Since the beginning of the collaboration between GALF and the Guinean Government, many traffickers have been arrested and condemned. Today, however, we are proud to send one of the biggest traffickers behind bars – the former head of CITES in Guinea – Ansoumane Doumbouya.
Abusing his position as the authority of this international convention he has been assisting and collaborating with traffickers. Different reports, including one from the CITES secretariat, implicated him in illegal exports, but he is still holding a position within the Ministry of Environment as Commander of the national wildlife and forestry mobile enforcement brigade and still signing CITES permits for traffickers.
The shocking hidden footage in the link below shows a trafficker explaining in details the corrupt system.
This time, the vicious cycle of impunity has been broken. Our long and meticulous investigation that led to this arrest took more than a year as Doumbouya is experienced and cautious in his illegal activities. He had just delivered a CITES permit for 2 primates to an international trafficker, Thierno Barry that has been regularly exporting protected species to China and other part of the world, with the CITES’ head’s complicity. Thierno Barry have been arrested. The two operations have been conducted by the BCN INTERPOL and the GALF project.
The case of Doumbouya became one of the most known examples of CITES high level corruption and has been discussed in the convention’s international meetings. Several hundreds of apes and many other totally protected species, were known to have been exported through this corrupt system.
The former head of CITES was even convoked and interrogated by the police early last year, where he declared that all the CITES permits, bonobos, chimpanzees and others were falsified. He pretended to have lost his official stamp, and that the traffickers imitate his signature.
Our investigation aimed to demonstrate that Mr Doumbouya kept on delivering CITES permits to several wildlife traffickers. He was using an old stock of permits that he had kept with him even after he lost his position as the head of CITES.
The satisfaction from this arrest is very personal to me. During the 10 years I spent in Guinea, and before I started fighting in wildlife law enforcement, I was an advisor to the Ministry of Environment for 2 years, and it is in the neighboring office that Mr Doumbouya -the CITES head of Guinea, provided wildlife traffickers with CITES permits, abusing the same national laws and international conventions that he was entrusted to protect.
Thierno Barry, the director of a fictive company involved for a long time in the international wildlife trade (BARRY PETS COMPAGNY IMPORT-EXPORT) have been arrested holding protected primates and a CITES permit signed by Ansoumane Doumbouya. Before his arrest, during several months of undercover investigation, he explained the implication of the former CITES MA in the international illegal wildlife trade.
Here is the criminal’s description of the corrupt system:
Email – “I have talked with the former director, head of CITES. He confirmed that he can provide me with the permits. He says he’s a bit afraid because he is no more the head of CITES. Chinese are difficult and often ask for confirmation”.
Hidden footage: “He is no more the head of CITES now, do you understand? When we take the CITES to send in Jordan, there could be problems if they see on the internet that he is not holding the position. He can say that I betrayed him. The former director has been fired but he has kept the old permits. But if there is some kind of confirmation, there will be some problems.
Do you understand? If the former director gives me, you know that he’s not allowed to give the CITES because he’s been fired, so if he gives me the CITES, I take the CITES and I send to Mr Hassan. If Mr Hassan sends to his ministry in Jordan to see the confirmation, there will be phone call to the one who is now in charge of CITES. This will create a lot of problems”.
Today, Mr Doumbouya faces the Justice. According to the penal code of Guinea, Mr Doumbouya faces charges from 6 months to 10 years of prison for usurpation of qualification and office, unlawful extension of authority, forgery on public acts and documents, forgery of administrative documents, receiving, complicity and corruption.
After a long suspension from CITES, Guinea has an important responsibility to send a strong message to its citizen and the international community. Doumbouya should be severely punished according to the law.
Please warmly congratulate these Ministers and ask for the maximal sentence for the former CITES head of Guinea.
Directeur GALF / Guinée- Application de la Loi Faunique www.wara-enforcement.org