Huge discrepancies exist regarding the availability and quality of transnational organised crime (TOC) statistics and information across African states. The kind of in-depth analysis conducted by academic institutions, non-governmental organisations and investigative journalism is valuable, but similarly inconsistent. This means that studying and measuring TOC remains significantly challenging.
The ENACT incident monitoring component puts forward a new and innovative system for understanding TOC, using a methodology inspired by conflict data projects such as the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project and the Global Terrorism Database. This methodology uses media monitoring, recognising that media reporting is one of few avenues for gathering information on TOC.
Every six months, the ENACT incident monitoring component focuses on a specific research area defined by crime type(s) and region. During each phase, coders systemically process media reports and capture data on set parameters. Upon the completion of each phase, a research report detailing the findings is released.
The pilot phase – conducted from January to July 2017 – focused on wildlife crime in Southern Africa. The findings enabled a better understanding of the key actors in the market, the tactics used by poachers, the major trafficking routes and how products are sold in destination countries.
Findings like these will enable a more comprehensive and effective response to also address the drivers of organised wildlife crime.
The research report was launched during a seminar at ISS Pretoria on 21 September 2017. Timed to coincide with World Rhino Day, the findings were launched to an influential audience and complemented by high-profile contributions on the theme: New prospects for countering poaching.
Key speakers included Julian Rademeyer, Project Leader for TRAFFIC, Major General Ledwaba, Head of Serious Organised Crime, Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (HAWKS) and Major General (Ret) Jooste, Head of Special Projects, SANParks.
‘We’ve lost 7 100 rhinos in Africa over the past decade. While there have been slight declines, this slaughter has continued,’ said Rademeyer. On the role of the ISS and ENACT, he said: ‘It’s important to have projects looking for trends, looking for shifts in data, and tracking those trends over time and trying to understand the particular trends. There are so many gaps in our knowledge. It’s important that those are plugged.’
Subsequent phases of the incident monitoring project focus on wildlife and drug-related crime in Eastern Africa; as well as human trafficking and migrant smuggling in North Africa. The associated research papers will be released in 2018.
‘The ENACT initiative is welcomed. Knowledge that is not shared is not knowledge. This is a platform from where that can happen,’ said Jooste.