Debriefing Meeting for Operation GAPIN

09 March 2011

Debriefing Meeting for Operation GAPIN

South Africa, 1-2 March 2011


WCO Director of Compliance and Facilitation, Gaozhang Zhu, attended a Debriefing Meeting for Operation GAPIN in South Africa from 1-2 March 2011 organized with the assistance of Patrick Moeng, the Head of Customs Border Control at the South African Revenue Service (SARS), and supported by the Deputy Head of the WCO Regional Intelligence Liaison Office (RILO) for East and Southern Africa, Susan Onyancha.

The operation was conducted under the Framework of Project GAPIN (Great Apes and Integrity) which is funded by the Swedish Government with the aim of raising awareness and building the enforcement and integrity capacity ofCustoms administrations in 14 African countries in their implementation of the CITES Convention, in particular the combating of illicit trafficking in great apes (Chimpanzees, Gorillas and Bonobos) and other protected species.

Besides representatives from participating African countries, Customs officers from Belgium, China and Thailand also attended the Debriefing Meeting – these countries among others having actively contributed to the operation through significant seizures. Delegates discussed national experiences and lessons learned and highly valued the overall results of the operation, expressing the hope that similar long term projects covering environmentally sensitive goods would be considered for the future.

The operation resulted in over 100 seizures covering more than 31 species of protected wildlife. The two-week operation took place from 24 January to 6 February in Africa and was supported by 25 Customs services in Asia and Europe – who took simultaneous actions on the ground – as well as a number of international and regional organizations including the CITES Secretariat and WCO RILOs. A one week training session in Mombasa, Kenya during December 2010 was run to prepare Customs officers for the operation.

The event was preceded by a press conference to announce the results of Operation GAPIN. Director Zhu was interviewed by South African television and media representatives in the margins of the press conference. GAPIN’s results have generated wide coverage with at least 20 press reports having been noted. The news has also been announced by a number of organizations involved in environment matters on their websites and newsletters.