|A flowerback box turtle, whose scientific name is Cuora galbinifrons, is protected in the Xuân Liên Nature Reserve in Thanh Hóa Central Province. — VNA/VNS Photo Nguyễn Đình Nam|
HÀ NỘI — On average, as many as 92.2 per cent of wildlife traffickers were arrested during the period 2018-2022, marking an increase compared to 84.6 per cent in 2014-2017, according to Education for Nature – Việt Nam (ENV).
This result was announced on Wednesday afternoon as part of ENV's report on the handling of wildlife crimes in Việt Nam in 2022.
The report emphasised that the rate of apprehending violators in criminal cases related to wildlife transport and trade in Việt Nam reached a significant high.
The rate of judgment in criminal wildlife cases also saw a significant increase. Between 2018 and 2021, following the implementation of the amended Penal Code, over 90 per cent of arrested suspects faced judgment—a nearly 30 per cent increase compared to the previous period when the average judgment rate was only 62.2 per cent.
The average prison sentence for wildlife offenders last year was 3.1 years.
While this represents a decrease compared to the highest average prison sentence in 2019, which was 4.45 years, it still marked a doubling of the average prison sentence in 2017, which stood at 1.2 years, as reported by ENV.
Bùi Thị Hà, deputy director of ENV, said that these results demonstrate positive changes in Việt Nam since the amended Penal Code came into effect in 2018.
This was an important step in judicial reform, creating a solid legal basis for agencies to investigate and handle wildlife crimes, she said.
Hà noted that wildlife smuggling through ports remained a significant challenge that needed to be addressed by the authorities.
"Since 2015, ENV's database has recorded 34 wildlife trafficking cases discovered at seaports in Việt Nam, involving nearly 80 tonnes of elephant tusks, rhino horns, and pangolin scales confiscated. Unfortunately, to date, only three people involved in these cases have been convicted," said Hà.
She added that the seizure of wild animals at ports could partially disrupt illegal wildlife transport. However, legal agencies could only completely dismantle the wildlife smuggling ring when they successfully arrest the leaders and apply appropriate sanctions to those involved in the wildlife trade.
Therefore, ENV recommends that the authorities should leverage information from the initial seizures to collect more evidence, make arrests, and impose strict penalties on the leaders to eliminate Việt Nam from the illegal wildlife trade network. — VNS