Vietnam orders police to step up crackdown on wildlife smuggling

By Toan Dao   November 23, 2016 | 07:09 pm PT
Vietnam orders police to step up crackdown on wildlife smuggling
Vietnamese authorities destroy seized elephant ivory and rhino horns in Hanoi on November 12. Photo by Reuters/Nguyen Thanh Cao
The government has promised to expand efforts to tackle illegal wildlife trade.

The Vietnamese government has ordered police to take stronger action and help end wildlife smuggling into the country, particularly the illegal trade in ivory.

Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh said the Ministry of Public Security needs to launch campaigns to wipe out criminal smuggling rings and step up the process to investigate the smuggling cases discovered recently.

The ministry was asked to work closely with prosecutors to soon bring the cases to trial.

In addition, Vietnam's customs officials were asked to monitor import and export activities at the country’s border gates in order to detect wildlife smuggling operations.

During the Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade held earlier this month, Vietnamese officials had pledged to expand their efforts to tackle illegal wildlife trade by strengthening law enforcement and improve cross border cooperation.

A few days before the conference, more than two tons of ivory and 70 kilograms (154 pounds) of rhino horn were crushed and burned on the outskirts of Hanoi as armed guards protected more than 30 crates of horns, tusks and bones being destroyed.

Vietnamese customs and police officials at Ho Chi Minh City's Cat Lai Port seized around 400-700 kg of ivory from two timber shipments sent from Nigeria on November 1. In October around 3.5 tons of ivory concealed in timber shipments from Africa were seized.

Vietnam outlawed the ivory trade in 1992, but permitted shops to continue trading items that predated the ban. It is believed that weak law enforcement has allowed the illegal trade to persist and the country has been criticized by international groups for being a major ivory market.

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