A Malagasy civil society group recently relaunched a hotline for people to report environmental crimes while avoiding the reprisals that often follow when they make such reports to the authorities. The group hired four environmental lawyers to answer the phones and investigate the cases, referring some to government agencies for enforcement. An anonymous caller told hotline lawyers about a classified ad for endangered tortoises in a Malagasy newspaper. The call led to the arrest in March of the seller, a government worker who is now in prison awaiting trial. Many governments have online and telephone reporting options for environmental and wildlife crimes. However, in countries with corrupt institutions and weak law enforcement, NGOs and civil society groups often run the hotlines. If someone in Madagascar spots illegal logging, mining or slash-and-burn farming, they often have difficulty reporting the crime to authorities. Wrongdoers can pressure or threaten them to stay silent, and in some cases, local authorities take bribes to look the other way or even prosecute whistleblowers . Alliance Voahary Gasy (AVG), a leading civil society group based in the capital city of Antananarivo, recently relaunched a hotline that provides a safer alternative for reporting environmental crimes. The group, […]

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