All four stories in this issue of the Risk Bulletin investigate the social, economic, and political issues that drive organized crime and shape forms of organized crime, and how responses can better address these underlying systemic issues.

1. Death and forced labour at sea as Chinese fishing trawlers pillage northern Somalia.

Looking north to Somalia, the case of the Liao Dong Yu fishing fleet demonstrates some of the classic characteristics of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing cases in Somalia. Our investigation has revealed that they appear to enjoy protection at the very top of Puntland’s business and political elite.

2. ‘Loved to death’: poaching for the horticultural market threatens cycads in South Africa.

Cycads, an ancient group of plants dating from the time of the dinosaurs, are threatened globally by extinction. The plants are also coveted by collectors, especially rarer specimens. In South Africa, a hotspot of cycad diversity, this demand has given rise to a harmful illicit market that has placed dozens of species at risk.

3. Kidnappings target the Somali community in Kenya.

Our research this month has investigated how the Somali community in Kenya has been targeted for kidnapping for ransom. The victims vary widely, from prominent scholars and political analysts (believed to be targeted for their political views) to school-age girls. Yet the common denominator among these victims is their ethnicity. Why is this the case?

4. Inadequate protection for witnesses and whistle-blowers in Kenya.

In Kenya, our investigations look at the violence and intimidation faced by whistle-blowers and witnesses in criminal cases. Although Kenya is one of the few countries in East and southern Africa with an institutional witness protection programme, the programme faces challenges of underfunding, a lack of independence, and allegations of poor practice.

The stories in the Risk Bulletin are drawn from GI-TOC’s network of analysts and researchers, who form the basis of our Civil Society Observatory of Illicit Economies in Eastern and Southern Africawhich has hubs in Nairobi and Cape Town.

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