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Handling of wildlife crimes still not going far enough

09:44 | 13/05/2022

VCN – At a seminar titled “Handling wildlife crimes in Vietnam: Achievements and challenges” held by the Education Center for Nature (ENV) on May 10, Mrs. Bui Thi Ha, Deputy Director of ENV said that since 2018, nearly 60 tons of ivory and pangolin scales have been detected and seized at seaports of Vietnam.

Handling of wildlife crimes still not going far enough
Mrs. Bui Thi Ha shares her opinions at the seminar. Photo: N.H

Mrs. Bui Thi Ha also said that, until now, nobody has stood trial for leading wildlife trafficking in large quantities from overseas to Vietnam.

According to ENV, Vietnam has made many achievements in handling wildlife crimes. In 2021, ENV recorded 144 cases of violations relating to wildlife crimes. In particular, 133 suspects had been caught, accounting for 92.4% of total cases of violations of wildlife crime. Until now, 60.2% of suspects had been held to account.

In addition, 47.9% of cases relating to wildlife crimes in 2021 were sentenced to imprisonment with the average prison sentence for offenders being 3.83 years. This was the rate and average prison sentence level maintained since the Penal Code 2015 (amended and supplemented in 2017) took effect (January 1, 2018).

These results have shown the great determination of competent authorities and legal proceedings in Vietnam in their efforts to handle wildlife crimes. However, Vietnam continues to be assessed as a large wildlife market and an important transshipment point to transport wildlife animals to other countries in the region and around the world.

According to many sources, currently, the criminal lines led by Vietnamese people have been formed with forces both in Africa and Vietnam, specializing in illegally collecting and transporting tons of ivory and rhino horn, pangolin scales and other endangered and rare wildlife products to Vietnam for consumption as well as sold at home and overseas.

On January 11, 2022, Da Nang Port Customs Branch chaired and coordinated with relevant authorities to organize a search of goods in a container showing suspicious signs from Nigeria to Tien Sa Port (Da Nang City) and discovered 456kg of ivory and 6.2 tons of pangolin scales which were illegally transported to Vietnam.

This case showed that Vietnam would continue to be the "destination" of illegal wildlife transport if there were no solutions to thoroughly handle it.

The data from ENV's wildlife violation database showed that from 2018 till now, nearly 60 tons of ivory and pangolin scales have been discovered and seized at seaport areas of Vietnam.

The investigation, apprehension and handling of the leaders of large-scale wildlife trafficking lines involving transnational elements was not easy because those people were often not directly carrying out customs procedures or even collecting and packing wild animals to put in containers for illegal transportation to Vietnam.

However, ENV assessed, this was not an impossible job if competent authorities are really determined and realize the need to deal with the "root" problem of wildlife trade and illegal transportation of wildlife.

Mrs. Bui Thi Ha said that: “The discovery and seizure of exhibits should only be the starting point of a specialized project dealing with wildlife crimes. The authorities needed to make efforts to investigate, verify and use all the information that could be extracted from these initial seizures of exhibits to find the leaders and strictly handle those subjects in accordance with the law. Only when the ringleaders are dealt with, we will be able to show these and others the risks of this particularly large illicit trade."

Mrs. Bui Thi Ha hoped that the handling of wildlife violations at seaports will receive the attention of the Ministry of Public Security and State agencies together with the close cooperation of law enforcement agencies in the source countries in the African region to be able to thoroughly handle it.

So that Vietnam will no longer be a "destination" of tons of ivory, rhino horn, pangolin scales and other endangered and rare wildlife products in the future.

By Nguyễn Hiền/Thanh Thuy