FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WildLeaks – the first, secure, online whistleblower platform dedicated to Wildlife Crime
A group of organizations headed by the California based Elephant Action League and focused on fighting wildlife and forest crime has launched the first
state-of-the-art secure platform to submit tips and information
Los Angeles and London, February 10, 2014 – Wildlife crime is the 4th largest transnational crime in the world, worth at least US$ 17 billion annually, after narcotics, counterfeiting, and human trafficking.
Wildlife crime is now the most immediate threat to many species including elephants, rhinos, big cats and apes. Forest crime, which is the illicit trade in illegally logged timber, degrades forests and destroys wildlife habitats. These crimes also cause a significant human and economic toll.
Unfortunately for most countries, combating wildlife & forest crime is still not a priority and it almost always remains overlooked and poorly understood.
Although it is now clear that wildlife and forest trafficking has far reaching national and international security implications, many governments tend to see the problem as just an environmental issue and the global fight against wildlife and forest crime is failing.
New and innovative approaches are urgently needed and global civil society can now play their part with Wildleaks, the first international platform for whistleblowers against these crimes.
“Wildlife crimes very often go undetected and unchallenged when people do not speak up about them ” said Mr. Andrea Crosta, Project Leader of WildLeaks and Co-Founder of Elephant Action League and, “and whistleblowers can play a crucial role in fighting back, creating awareness and supporting justice”.
But blowing the whistle on wildlife crimes, especially when criminals and corrupt government officials are involved, is a risky endeavor.
So a group of like-minded organizations focused on fighting wildlife crime and supporting rural communities have joined forces to launch WildLeaks – the first global, secure, online whistleblower platform dedicated to wildlife and forest crime.
WildLeaks, in collaboration with the Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights, has implemented a secure platform in order to allow the sources to stay anonymous and to submit sensitive information and files in a very secure way, always encrypted, in respect to data transmission and management. If the complete ‘anonymity’ submission option is chosen, the whistleblower will be using a system that is entirely based on the ‘Tor’ technology, which is already integrated in the platform and allows navigating the Internet anonymously and in an untraceable way.
“Our first priority is to facilitate the identification of criminals and corrupt governmental officials behind the poaching and trafficking of endangered species such as ivory, rhino horn, big cats, apes, pangolins and birds, as well as forest products ” said Mr. Andrea Crosta. “But we also put a lot of effort into protecting the people who chose to send us information, not only by providing a state-of-the-art secure system but also by managing and using the information in the correct way”.
“Organized crime syndicates looting Africa’s natural resources are extremely difficult to penetrate, and there are dangers for whistleblowers who expose them,” says Fiona Macleod, editor of the Oxpeckers Center for Investigative Environmental Journalists. “We hope that offering a secure platform for information that will be followed up will encourage those with inside information to let us know about it.”
Highly experienced and responsible professionals, investigative reporters and ex-law enforcement officers evaluate documents and tips provided to WildLeaks. In order to assess the information and decide on further actions, WildLeaks uses sophisticated intelligence methodology, a vast network of contacts and the latest technologies.
“After anonymous information is received, evaluated and validated by WildLeaks, we work to transform this information into a verified and actionable item, a point for launching an investigation or sharing it with the media or, when possible, with selected and trusted law enforcement officers” added Mr. Crosta, “always aiming at exposing wildlife crimes and bringing the responsible individuals to justice”.
Fiachra Kearney, CEO of Global Eye, adds “there are a range of intelligence overlays we can apply to examine the veracity of incoming data. Once the various nodes of these trafficking networks are uncovered we can use tools such as hard hitting public campaigns, closed-door political discussions or logistical disruption in cooperation with transport companies.” He says, “we have an increasingly wide range of options that will only become more powerful.”
WildLeaks is a not-for-profit collaborative project funded by the California based Elephant Action League (EAL) and managed by a small group of very experienced individuals, including directors of environmental NGOs, environmental lawyers, accredited journalists, security professionals and ex-law enforcement officers.
The group includes the heads of organizations like Elephant Action League (EAL), Oxpeckers Center in South Africa, EcoJust in the Netherlands and Global Eye that operates in Africa and South East Asia, and the award-winning author and journalist Bryan Christy.
Among the Partners WildLeaks enjoys the collaboration of the Environmental Investigation Agency in London (EIA UK) and of 100Reporters, a U.S. based award-winning investigative journalists network working with whistleblowers and citizen watchdogs to expose corruption and heighten public accountability.
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