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Working together to prevent wildlife crime

12:55 | 23/05/2022

VCN – In recent times, the Customs authority and competent forces have handled many cases of illegal trade and transportation of wildlife.

However, the handling of these cases still faces many difficulties because the leader of the wildlife trafficking line cannot be arrested. Mrs. Bui Thi Ha, Deputy Director of the Education Center for Nature (ENV) spoke with Customs News about the work to overcome this situation, thereby improving the efficiency of wildlife crime prevention.

Mrs. Bui Thi Ha, Deputy Director of the Education Center for Nature (ENV)
Mrs. Bui Thi Ha, Deputy Director of the Education Center for Nature (ENV)

How do you evaluate the work of preventing and handling wildlife crimes fulfilled by the Customs sector in particular and other competent sectors of Vietnam in general in recent years?

ENV highly appreciates and welcomes the efforts of competent authorities, especially the Customs sector and law enforcement agencies in handling wildlife crimes across the country in recent years. The authorities have made significant changes in handling wildlife crimes, reflected in greater attention and determination in handling this type of crime.

In 2021 alone, ENV recorded 144 cases of wildlife violations. In particular, 133 cases of seizure and arrest of related suspects, account for 92.4% of the total number of wildlife violation cases. Up to now, more than 60% of cases discovered in 2021 have been criminally prosecuted.

However, Vietnam continues to be assessed as one of the world's major wildlife consumption markets and transit points. According to statistics from ENV, from 2018 to now, more than 60 tons of wild animals have been illegally transported through seaport areas into Vietnam for consumption or transshipment to other countries.

ENV hopes the competent authorities, especially the prosecution agencies, will pay attention to thoroughly handling wildlife crimes. The reason is that the profit earned from the wildlife trade is huge and only when we can handle the trafficking lines and the subjects who lead the lines of illegal trade and transport of wildlife to Vietnam, can contribute to eliminating these lines and preventing wildlife crime, as well as contributing to wildlife protection.

The investigation, arrest and handling of the leaders of large-scale wildlife trafficking chains with transnational elements is not an easy task, what solutions does ENV have to support competent authorities in this work?

Through ENV database of wildlife violations, ENV has also been able to see the trends, and even identify the lines and leaders of trafficking lines. All this information has been provided by ENV to the authorities.

ENV will also continue to synthesize and gather sufficient information to provide to the authorities. ENV hopes that the competent authorities will use these initial sources to continue carrying out in-depth investigations and handling wildlife traffickers.

We might not consider handling these subjects with the regulations related to wildlife, but we could research and use other relevant legal documents such as the law on money laundering to prosecute those who transfer or launder money through legitimate enterprises.

In addition, the law on tax evasion allows prosecution of those with substantial income or assets that do not reflect taxable income properly; the law on business fraud prohibits businesses from operating with the purpose of "disguising" criminal activities. Along with that, there are measures to control goods by the Customs sector to thoroughly handle objects and lines of trading wildlife.

I think that we still have to continue to have stricter penalties for wildlife traffickers in the future. If we can focus on effectively dealing with the leaders of large wildlife trafficking lines, it will be the biggest proof to show Vietnam's determination and will affirm to the international community about Vietnam's zero tolerance for this type of crime.

As for the control work of the Customs sector, do you have any suggestions to help improve the effectiveness of preventing, detecting and handling wildlife crimes?

Although Customs authorities have made a lot of efforts in detecting wildlife traffickers, there are still some limitations because Customs can only carry out the initial investigation steps, not the in-depth investigations to identify the offenders as well as criminal prosecution of the offenders.

I think that the coordination between Customs and the police should be improved from the initial arrest. Even when receiving initial information, the Customs authority can coordinate with the Police to monitor at the clearance stage.

At this time, it is possible to apply control measures and let the shipment pass through the customs management area, carry out customs procedures as usual, then coordinate with other forces to make arrests, thereby helping to deal more effectively with wildlife traffickers.

Regarding the implementation of risk management by the Customs sector, many types of goods transported from Africa to Vietnam are classified into the red channel, so the subjects have found many ways to change the starting point of the goods. Instead of transporting directly from African countries to Vietnam, the items were transported to another location such as Malaysia or Singapore and then moved to Vietnam, changing the original departure point and making the work of risk management of the Customs sector more difficult.

However, I think the Customs authority will soon have solutions for this problem to be able to handle wildlife crimes.

Thank you!

By Nguyễn Hiền/Thanh Thuy