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UN calls for overhaul of national laws to tackle wildlife crime

UN calls for overhaul of national laws to tackle wildlife crimeGovernments around the world need to pass national laws outlawing the possession of wildlife and timber that has been illegally harvested or traded elsewhere, a new report by the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) urges.

At present, unlisted but endangered flora and fauna can be legally sold in other nations, even if it was illicitly taken from the countries of origin, due to a lack of coverage in the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites).

As the Guardian revealed last year, conservation authorities believe that the survival of many endangered species is being threatened as a result.

The level of concern is such that the UN is now calling for “each country to prohibit, under national law, the possession of wildlife that was illegally harvested in, or illegally traded from, anywhere else in the world.”

“Domestic environmental laws should be expanded to provide protection to wildlife from other parts of the world,” the report adds.

Draft laws could be prepared nationally, regionally or internationally, to give a legal basis for contraband seizures by customs officers, without having to refer to international protected species lists, according to the UN paper.

Theodore Leggett, the study’s author, told the Guardian there was a good chance for the idea gaining traction in the international community.

“There is tremendous international goodwill on this right now. No one is going to stand up and say that wildlife trade should be less regulated,” he said.

“An additional wildlife protocol to the transnational organised crime convention has been proposed before. You could have an international agreement dealing with wildlife crime. You could also do it in national regulations, or on a regional basis with blocs effectively saying: “‘If it is illegal in your country, it is illegal in my country’.”

However, there is currently no internationally agreed definition for “wildlife crime” and the transnational organised crime convention’s assessment of a “serious crime” – carrying a prison sentence of four years or more – may be contentious for some.

Source: The Guardian
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