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The WCO and INTERPOL join hands once again to strengthen the capacities of Asian Customs and Police administrations to mitigate Illegal Wildlife Trade

17 junio 2019

Under the auspices of the WCO INAMA Project, and jointly with INTERPOL, an Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) Regional Customs – Police Workshop for Asian countries was conducted in Bangkok, Thailand on 20-29 May 2019. The event was hosted by the Thai Customs Department and was attended by 12 Customs and 3 Police officers from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam, as well as one officer from the Regional Intelligence Liaison Office for Asia-Pacific

The IWT Enforcement training addressed enforcement and criminal investigation skills, risk management and joint operations with police authorities. It was conducted in close cooperation with the WCO COPES Programme and key experts from the Malawi Revenue Authority and the South African Revenue Service.

The Customs – Police cooperation is crucial as Customs seizures of illegal wildlife need to be followed-through by investigations and prosecutions in order to ensure the dismantling of criminal networks. 

Various aspects were covered during the course, such as criminal investigations techniques, local legislation, questioning, note taking, retaining the chain of custody, admissibility of evidence, prosecutions etc., risk management, evaluation of the current IWT risk picture in the countries represented, technical CITES convention training, and Police / Customs joint operations.

Some of the objectives of the Regional Workshop included, amongst others:

  • To raise awareness regarding IWT amongst the Asian customs and police administrations.
  • To introduce attendees to WCO platforms, such as ENVIRONET.
  • To build technical IWT enforcement skills and knowledge with the attendees in relation to CITES (e.g. working and administration of the Convention, species identification etc.).
  • To build lasting relationships between customs and police colleagues, and to ensure the hand-over process between customs and police is streamlined.
  • To conduct joint planning aimed at IWT enforcement operations.
  • To jointly devise strategies to ensure arrests and prosecutions (i.e. the dismantling of criminal networks).
  • To identify risks (per country).

This highly successful event was the third out of three IWT Regional Workshops, funded by the U.S. Department of State. The previous two events were respectively conducted in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and in Antananarivo, Madagascar. The three workshops brought together a total of 41 Customs and 12 Police officers from 24 INAMA beneficiary administrations from Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, as well as Regional Intelligence Liaison Offices.