Vietnam urged to take stronger legal action against wildlife smuggling

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Rhino horns seized at Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Son Nhat International Airport. File photo Rhino horns seized at Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Son Nhat International Airport. File photo

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Experts have called for stricter regulations to deter the smuggling of wildlife in Vietnam, especially the trade in ivory and rhino horn, after many cases were detected at airports and border gates in recent years.
“There is no specific guidance for dealing with different levels of violation,” said Duong Ngoc Hai, deputy director of Ho Chi Minh City Prosecutors’ Office.
“Prosecution agencies can only impose relatively small penalties that cannot prevent future violations,” he said at a conference in Ninh Thuan Province during the weekend. 
According to the Supreme People’s Procuracy, the highest prosecutors’ office in the country, there have been 33 criminal cases involving 26 traffickers from 2010-2015.
Wildlife and relevant products have mostly been smuggled through Hanoi, HCMC, Quang Ninh and Hai Phong.
The authorities conceded that they have difficulties in handling these cases because of a lack of facilities and human resources. 
Nguyen Duy Giang of the Supreme Procuracy proposed adding specific rules regarding the illegal smuggling and transporting of rhino horn and ivory to the Penal Code. 
At the workshop, the Vietnam chapter of the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society launched the Wildlife Crime Analysis Toolkit, a technical resource to assist government officials in wildlife and forestry administration.
It also supports relevant agencies in conducting a comprehensive analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of preventive and criminal justice responses and other measures related to the protection and monitoring of wildlife and forest products.

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