India among 7 Asian countries to win UN award for combating transborder environmental crime
23 November 2018
United Nation Environment has awarded the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) of India’s ministry of environment, forest and climate change with the Asia Environment Enforcement Awards, 2018 for excellent work done by the bureau in combating transborder environmental crime.
Congratulating the bureau, union environment minister said the Asia Environmental Enforcement Award, recognises the excellent work done by government officials and teams from the bureau who are diligently involved in combating transborder environmental crime.
The Asia Environment Enforcement Awards recognise and celebrate excellence in enforcement by government officials and institutions/teams combating transborder environmental crime in Asia. The awards are given to outstanding individuals and/or government organisations/teams that demonstrate excellence and leadership in enforcement of national laws to combat transborder environmental crime in one of the following eligibility criteria areas: collaboration; impact; innovation; integrity and gender leadership.
Nine institutions and individuals from across Asia have been recognised by the United Nations, USAID, Interpol, and the Freeland Foundation for outstanding work in preventing transborder environmental crime in an annual award ceremony in Bangkok.
Wildlife trafficking was in the spotlight as winners from China, India, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam accepted awards for disrupting international criminal networks that have laid waste to wildlife across multiple continents.
Environmental crimes, which include illegal trade in wildlife, illicit trade in forests and forestry products, illegal dumping of waste including chemicals, smuggling of ozone depleting substances and illegal mining, comes at a hefty cost – estimated at up to $258 billion per year. It is now the fourth largest illegal crime after drug smuggling, counterfeiting and human trafficking.
“Humanity is the guardian of the natural world, and these winners are at the tip of the spear. Without their commitment to justice, our environmental laws and safeguards are a paper tiger. And though their work may often go unrecognised, it is their qualities of courage, dedication and integrity we need to see more of to preserve our planet.” said Dechen Tsering, UN Environment Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.
This year’s award winners are:
Integrity: Le Thi Hang, Judge at Khanh Hoa People’s Court, Nha Trang, Vietnam, has been awarded the Integrity Award for showing exceptional determination to bring justice to one of the most serious wildlife crime cases Vietnam has seen, after more than 7,000 dead sea turtles were discovered, fully or partially taxidermised, stacked from floor to ceiling at several warehouses near Nha Trang city. judge Hang accepted the case when no other judges in Nha Trang city would.
Pillar 4: Central Investigation Bureau, Nepal Police has been awarded the Pillar 4 Award. Despite being a small team with limited resources, Pillar 4 of Nepal Police’s Central Investigation Bureau was able to dismantle an international criminal network smuggling wildlife species, including black chimpanzees and exotic birds, from as far away as Nigeria.
Special Commendation: Wichien Chinnawong, chief of the Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary, Thailand, has been awarded the Special Commendation for carrying out their duties as enforcers of the law even when it became clear that one of the members of the group was a renowned, wealthy and influential businessman in Thailand.
Category: The Impact Award was awarded to Thailand Team, composed of the Thai Customs, the Royal Thai Police, and the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation for awarding 2-1/2 years’ jail term to wildlife trafficker. The individual was believed to head a large criminal network responsible for the trafficking of ivory and rhino horns from Africa to Asia
Wang Wei, director of investigation II of Anti-Smuggling Bureau of General Administration of China Customs, played an instrumental role in China’s National Sword enforcement campaign in the Anti-Smuggling Bureau of General Administration of China Customs to implement China’s new waste import controls. The National Sword policy has changed the landscape of waste trade in Asia and is now being replicated in other countries.
Innovation: Team of the investigation and suppression division III of the Royal Thai Customs, under the director Decha Wichaidit, adopted innovative risk profiling techniques to identify wildlife smugglers travelling to Thailand and Southeast Asia. Through the development of an advanced risk management system, Thai customs has been able to detect wildlife smuggling patterns for passengers travelling from Africa to Southeast Asia.
International Investigation Division, Korea Customs Service designed a special enforcement strategy to fight illegal cross-border environmental crimes and established the environment enforcement team exclusively designated to tackle various types of cross-border environmental crimes such as illegal trade in controlled substances and protected wildlife species. They are also applauded for their collaboration efforts with other countries.
The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau of India’s ministry of environment, forest and climate change adopted innovative enforcement techniques that have dramatically increased enforcement of transborder environmental crimes in India. Notably, it has developed an online Wildlife Crime Database Management System to retrieve real-time data to help analyze trends and devise effective measures to prevent and detect wildlife crime across India.
Collaboration: Joil bin Bombon, former Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia and RS Sharath, former Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, India, after attending a regional meeting in Bangkok in 2016 began an intense exchange of information on cases of mutual interest. This cooperation intensified over time until turning into coordinated surveillance efforts and joint law enforcement cooperation.