People, Environment

DOE Drafts Park Rangers Rights Bill, Awaits Gov’t OK

DOE Drafts Park Rangers Rights Bill, Awaits Gov’t OK
DOE Drafts Park Rangers Rights Bill, Awaits Gov’t OK

The Department of Environment has drafted a bill in support of park rangers and submitted it to First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri for further review and approval.

Once approved, it will make its way to Majlis (parliament), where it is expected to pass without a problem.

The bill covers a variety of issues, including legal support, severe punishment for those who shoot at the rangers, giving priority to criminal cases involving threats to park rangers and coverage of their medical costs among others, IRNA reported.

Mohammad Mojabi, deputy for legal and parliamentary affairs at the DOE, maintains that park rangers are already under protection, but the bill will offer them more support.

Speaking to ISNA, Mojabi said security forces of all governmental bodies are legally considered law enforcement officials and are supported by certain rules, but since park rangers have to deal with violent people with too many hunting guns at their disposal, specific rules are needed that explicitly cover the dangers they face every day.

“We need rules that clearly mention the term ‘park ranger’,” he said.

The bill mainly focuses on park rangers’ legal issues, but the Clean Air Bill, which was presented to the parliament over a year ago but failed to pass, has articles addressing their income.

“The Clean Air Bill envisions a threefold increase in salary for park rangers, which will hopefully be debated by the new Majlis,” said Mojabi.

The new bill was prepared following the murder of three park rangers a few weeks ago in two separate incidents that compelled both environmental officials and activists to demand better legal protection for the wardens.

This is while only a night before the submission of the draft, another park ranger in Dena Protected Area in Kohgilouyeh-Boyerahmad Province was shot in the arm by poachers said to be wielding Kalashnikov rifles, which is an assault rifle and not a hunting gun.

Park rangers are among the most hardworking yet poorly paid employees of DOE who do not receive the legal protection they deserve. Numerous park rangers have also been charged in the past with murder for killing illegal hunters in gun fights.

Environmentalists criticize the lack of legal protection for park rangers, arguing that if they are charged for murder in the line of duty, then they should not be armed in the first place.

Recruiting more forces, boosting supervision over hunting practices and revising the rules concerning the issuance of hunting permits and arms licenses are among solutions offered by environmentalists to ensure the safety of rangers.