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Wildlife NGOs demand strict punishment for trafficking leader

Update: January, 23/2018 - 16:13
Exhibits seized in a rhino horn smuggling case. Illustrative Photo. — VNA/VNS Photo
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — Sixteen international and non-governmental organisations working for wildlife conservation in Việt Nam signed a joint letter urging strict punishment for Nguyễn Mậu Chiến and his accomplies for transnational wildlife trafficking.

This was announced by Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) on Monday.

Nguyễn Mậu Chiến is alleged to lead a transnational network involved in trafficking rhino horns as well as in other illegal wildlife trade. On April 27, 2017, Chiến’s accomplices were caught while transporting 15 pieces of rhino horn from HCM City to Hà Nội under his direction. On May 1, 2017, Chiến turned himself in.

In the past, he was once arrested and administratively sanctioned in Tanzania in 2007.

The trial in the case prosecuting Chiến and his partners will open on January 26. They have been charged with violating Article 155.1 of Penal Code 2009 which is punishable by up to five years in jail.

The 16 organisations that have signed the letter include Centre of Hands-on Actions and Networking for Growth and Environment, ENV, Endangered Primate Rescue Centre, Four Paws Viet, Freeland, Free the Bears, GreenViet, Humane Society International, Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, The Asian Turtle Programme of Indo-Myanmar Conservation, TRAFFIC, United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime, WildAct Vietnam, Wildlife Conservation Society Viet Nam, World Animal Protection and WWF Viet Nam.

In the joint letter, the organisations express their desire for the law-enforcement agencies to give appropriate punishment to the accused in the upcoming trial at Hà Đông District Court. The sentence, they say, should not only serve the admonitory purposes of law, but also reflect the determination of Việt Nam in taking down wildlife trafficking networks. They also pledge their support to Việt Nam’s efforts in combatting illegal wildlife trafficking and trade.

“This is the country’s exclusive opportunity to turn commitments into reality in closing down criminal wildlife trafficking networks and strengthen law enforcement efforts in the fight against wildlife crime. The whole world is watching Việt Nam’s action in this case,” deputy director of ENV Bùi Thị Hà told the Vietnam News Agency.

On November 27 last year, the case file was returned for further investigation, specifically to look into the origin of the confiscated wildlife and inconsistency in the subjects’ testimonies.

The arrest of Chiến in 2017 marks a milestone in Việt Nam’s battle against wildlife traffickers as this is the first time a suspected leader of a wildlife trafficking network has been apprehended and prosecuted. — VNS


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