Newswise — Enforcement agencies from China, Lao PDR and Viet Nam agreed on urgent measures to tackle wildlife trafficking networks operating across their countries. The Wildlife Conservation Society provided technical assistance to the meetings.
Rapid economic growth, increased regional trade, connected transport/communications infrastructure and the removal of trade barriers all pose increased challenges to law enforcement agencies tackling transnational wildlife trafficking. Vietnamese, Chinese and Laotian wildlife criminals co-operate internationally, without the same limitations of official protocols, geo-politics, and limited resources faced by many government agencies.
Officers from police, customs, border security, and CITES of the three countries convened for two days to strengthen working relationships through face-to-face meetings and agree upon priority actions to strengthen law enforcement cooperation and enable greater impact at a criminal network level.
Wang Hao, Deputy Division Chief from Guangdong Anti-Smuggling Office: “It is crucial to strengthen the multilateral law enforcement communication between the three countries. Communications can build trust among law enforcement agencies for sharing intelligence and immediate information on specific trafficking cases. Therefore, the transnational organized smuggling group can be tackled from both sides. Also, communication can improve the understanding among government and wildlife management agencies in this region for updating the latest policy change, which will enable the agencies to identify false certification during the inspection of declaration.”
Meeting participants identified a number of priority actions that they will promote back in their home countries. For example, participants agreed that wildlife trafficking enforcement cooperation should be integrated into existing joint-government meetings and cooperation mechanisms that are effective in addressing other transnational issues.
Senior Lieutenant-Colonel Do Van Phung, from the Standing Office of the Viet Nam Central Committee 389 on Combating Smuggling, Commercial Frauds and Counterfeit Goods of Viet Nam: “Wildlife trafficking is a transnational organised crime and has grown in recent years. Greater cooperation between Vietnam and its counterpart agencies in Laos and China is critical to dismantling criminal networks. We will recommend that an official relationship be established between the Office for Anti-Smuggling of China and Steering committee 389 of Vietnam at provincial levels to support this in the coming years.”
Participants proposed to develop a plan to establish a joint-agency international task force on wildlife trafficking that would lead the planning and implementation of law enforcement strategies between the three countries. Mr Linthong Douangphachanh, Deputy Director General of the Department of Forest Inspection of the Lao PDR Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry: “Lao PDR are committed to continuing cooperation at this level and developing practical means to take joint actions on wildlife trafficking with our colleagues in China and Viet Nam”.
Technical support for the meeting was provided by the Wildlife Conservation Society in partnership with the Chinese Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA). Financial support for this work was provided by the blue moon fund and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF). The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank. A fundamental goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation.