Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Gov't backs prioritising nature crimes

Gov't backs prioritising nature crimes

Gov't backs prioritising nature crimes

Cambodia has called for ASEAN countries to support a proposal from Thailand that would recognise wildlife and forest crimes as a new priority in the Southeast Asian association’s transnational crime enforcement program.

At a meeting of senior law enforcement officials from ASEAN countries held this week in Siem Reap town, Thailand tabled the proposal. If accepted, the move would follow the lead of Interpol, which over the past four years has launched projects to crackdown on wildlife crimes and illegal logging.

Speaking at the event, Teng Savong, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior, said in a speech on Tuesday that other ASEAN countries should back Thailand’s proposal.

“I would like to appeal to our distinguished . . . leaders to kindly consider the proposal of the distinguished representative of Thailand for the recognition of wildlife and timber trafficking as the new priority,” he said.

The appeal came after an April conference in Bangkok, co-organised by the Royal Thai Police and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, where the idea was first broached.

Savong added that the presence of the representatives from ASEAN countries and international organisations was a sign that they had “mutually committed their tireless efforts to suppress terrorism, trafficking in persons, drug smuggling, arms smuggling, money laundering, economic crime, sea piracy and cybercrime”.

In 2013, Prime Minister Hun Sen called on Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos to help curb the illegal trade in Siamese rosewood following a bloody year for illegal Cambodian loggers, who are often fatally shot by Thai security forces.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora voted to list the species as one which cannot be exported without a special licence, however, a loophole in the listing means that it can be exported freely with minor processing.

Rights monitors from local group Adhoc in the northern provinces of Oddar Meanchey and Preah Vihear yesterday said that the smuggling of Siamese rosewood from Thailand had drastically decreased this year.

“Reports so far this year show only one case of a luxury timber trafficker being shot dead by the Thai authorities [in Oddar Meanchey],” said Adhoc officer Srey Naren.

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