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Center for Animal Law Studies

Gladys Kamasanyu

  • Gladys Kamasanyu
    Nina Johnson

Gladys is the head of the Uganda Wildlife Court, the only specialized wildlife court in Africa, and a recipient of our International Advocates Animal Law LLM Scholarship. She joined the Uganda Judiciary in 2009 as a Magistrate and has served in that capacity to date. She worked in three different courts, where she adjudicated all categories of cases before joining the Wildlife Court.

In the beginning of 2016, the Uganda Judiciary, as one of the stakeholders in the protection of the environment’s fauna and flora, took a deliberate move to end the impunity of wildlife crime in the country by establishing the Wildlife Court. The Court, which was officially launched in May 2017, was established to enhance the efficiency of the criminal justice system by bringing about expeditious, efficient, orderly, uniform, consistent and cost-effective adjudication of wildlife cases. It is situated in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, and it has an expanded jurisdiction covering the whole nation.

Gladys, along with two other judicial officers, were tasked with establishing the Court on the ground. She was highly involved in advising the Judiciary Administration on how best the Court could operate. She was also involved in stakeholder committee meetings and getting the Court up and running.

She has since then been involved in wildlife capacity building programs organized by international and national civil society organizations like TRAFFIC, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Space for Giants, Africa Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and Natural Resources Conservation Network (NRCN), as well as the lead agency in conservation in the country, the Uganda Wildlife Authority.

She has attended several trainings both as a trainer and trainee. In May 2019, she led a team of four delegates from Uganda and attended an Executive Policy and Development Symposium on Transnational Crime-Wildlife Trafficking and Model Law, organized by the US government at the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA), in Roswell, New Mexico.

She has successfully adjudicated many high profile wildlife cases involving a number of illicit wildlife products like elephant ivory, pangolin scales, live pangolins, rhino horns and hippopotamus teeth. She has over time gained a wealth of experience in the area of wildlife crime.

Gladys developed a strong passion in animal protection, welfare and rights. Her passion and desire to expand her knowledge in the field of animal law drew her to the LLM in Animal Law at Lewis & Clark Law School. She intends to use the knowledge acquired to build more capacity on animal-related issues within the Uganda Judiciary and in the country at large. She also intends to influence policies that afford better protection to animals in Uganda. She is driven by the belief that animals don’t speak, let us speak for them.