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25-26 July 2013, The Lao Government hosted the 2nd Bilateral Meeting between Lao PDR and Thailand on Wildlife Law Enforcement Cooperation in Vientiane Capital in Lao PDR.

Dr. Ty Phommasak, Vice Minister of Lao PDR's Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, opened the Meeting and stressed the importance of establishing stronger partnerships between Lao PDR and Thailand through sharing and exchanging of relevant information, learning and understanding the situation and issues of wildlife trafficking occurring between the two countries, and the steps both countries need to take to implement activities that can contribute to their goals and commitments under ASEAN. He also highlighted the need to raise awareness to local and communities which also play an important role in accomplishing goals to conserve and protect wildlife.

Highlighted in the meeting were the different sub-regional and bilateral initiatives within the ASEAN region which support strengthening of wildlife law enforcement at both in-country and through cross-border cooperation. Discussion by the delegates of the two countries also included implementation and activities under Lao-WEN, implementation of CITES in Lao PDR, the national situation and bilateral initiatives from Thailand-WEN, and wildlife research projects and forensics activities undertaken in Thailand to support wildlife law enforcement and as opportunities for future collaboration between Lao PDR and Thailand.

In conclusion, Lao PDR and Thailand agreed to collaborate on the issues discussed and the activities considered by both countries for implementation under their joint strategic plan which covers activities for information exchange and communication, specific areas of cooperation from enforcement matters to research and conservation concerns, and joint activities the 2 countries may undertake at both the national and local levels.

The Bilateral Meeting was participated in by various delegates from Lao PDR's Lao Wildlife Enforcement Network (Lao-WEN) headed by the Department of Forest Inspection (DOFI), and from Thailand's Thailand Wildlife Enforcement Network (Thailand-WEN) headed by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation (DNP), with representatives from government agencies at border checkpoints between Lao PDR and Thailand present, and representatives from the ASEAN-WEN Program Coordination Unit to provide technical and secretariat support. Mr. Khamphout Phandanouvong, Acting Director General of DOFI chaired the Meeting with Dr. Theerapat Prayurasiddhi, Deputy Director General of DNP, as co-chair.

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The opening ceremony of the 13th ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime.— VNA/VNS Photo

DA NANG (VNS) - Viet Nam's Deputy Minister of Public Security Le Quy Vuong has warned against the emerging threats of money laundering and cyber crime and called for ASEAN nations to work together to stop these criminals operating in the region.

Vuong made the call at the opening ceremony of the 13th ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime, which was held in the central city of Da Nang yesterday.

"These growing transnational crimes challenge the security of every ASEAN nation, so members must work together to deal with them," he said.

Viet Nam's police force, working with its ASEAN colleagues, detected 261 cyber crimes last year which resulted in a loss of VND2 trillion (US$95 million), the Viet Nam Interpol office has reported.

In the first three months of this year, police detected 17 incidents and arrested 34 people on online fraud charges.

According to Lieutenant General Do Kim Tuyen, deputy head of the Police Department under the Ministry of Public Security, money laundering is still a very new crime in Viet Nam.

He said the police force had detected 650 suspicious bank transactions last year, of which 22 have since been placed under investigation.

However, the financial damage done by money laundering has yet to be reported.

The meetings in Da Nang will end on Friday.

There are 200 participants from the 10 ASEAN member nations and the bloc's key dialogue partners: China, Japan, the US, South Korea, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, the European Union, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Asia Regional Trafficking in Persons Project.

Speaking on the sidelines of the meeting, the head of the Philippines delegation Felizando Serapior said: "During the group session we discussed initiatives to improve the training of staff working to combat human trafficking.

"We also emphasised that further education is needed for border patrol officers because they play an important role in the management of immigration."

Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit, head of the Thai delegation, revealed that his country had requested environmental crimes to be included in the transnational crime meeting discussions.

"This type of crime is an alarming problem because it infringes wildlife and can badly impact the environment in many countries. Despite this, strong enough action has not yet been taken to bring environmental criminals to justice," he said. — VNS


June 20th, 2013

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Shi Ronghong with PCU staff members at ASEAN-WEN CITES CoP16 (photo by Chrisgel Ryan Cruz/ASEAN-WEN PCU)

From 6 February to 5 April 2013, Ms. Shi Ronghong, Deputy Chief of the Division of Convention Affairs of the CITES Management Authority of China, undertook a Capacity Building Special Assignment as a seconded officer to the ASEAN-WEN Program Coordination Unit. China recently established the National Inter-Agency CITES Enforcement Group (NICEG is also known as China-WEN). The placement is part of the 1st Sino-ASEAN Technical Cooperation Meeting on CITES’ larger capacity building recommendations for its member institutions, which has included staff placements, staff exchanges and study visits across the 2 major regions. Similar postings of ASEAN officers in China is expected in the future.

During that technical cooperation roundtable, officers from the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network and the Government of the Peoples Republic of China produced a a summary of the technical consultation on cooperation, that provides suggestions to strengthen cooperation on wildlife enforcement and related CITES matters between ASEAN-WEN and China, which include matters on information sharing and public awareness, capacity building and trainings, enforcement cooperation and coordination facilitation, and other areas of cooperation.

During her assignment, Ms. Shi Ronghong was able to provide important links and relevant assistance in the daily operations of the ASEAN-WEN PCU in terms of its cooperation links with the CITES Management Authority of China, in the same way that the ASEAN-WEN PCU provided to her significant learning to her work. In particular, support was mutually reinforced during the preparations of the ASEAN-WEN PCU for the CITES CoP16 and the ASEAN Ministerial Session Side-Event on CITES Cooperation. In addition, Ms. Shi Ronghong also contributed in supporting cooperation links between China and Thailand on relevant CITES and wildlife law enforcement matters, and assisted in the recently concluded Special Investigations Group (SIG) Workshop at the ILEA (International Law Enforcement Academy) Bangkok, Thailand. The special posting was jointly supported by the USAID-funded ARREST Program, implemented by FREELAND Foundation, and the Government of the People’s Republic of China.

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ASEAN-WEN Chairperson Astrid Yeo (Singapore), Vice Chairman Dr Theerapat Prayusiddhi (Thailand)
and ASEAN-WEN Program Coordination Unit Senior Officer Manop Lauprasert receives the Commendation Letter from CITES Secretary General John Scanlon. (Photos courtesy of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, Thailand)

March 7, 2013 (Bangkok, Thailand) - The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Secretary-General Certificates of Commendation were presented to representatives from the National Inter-Agency CITES Enforcement Collaboration Group (NICECG) of China, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) and the Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF) for their role in Operation COBRA, a month long cross-continent joint operation to combat illegal wildlife trade. NICECG, ASEAN-WEN and LATF received the award during the first global meeting of wildlife enforcement networks (WENs) on the sidelines of the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES CoP 16). Ten WENs or groups operating within Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America, as well as proposed networks for Central Asia, West Asia and the Oceania/Pacific region, met to discuss cooperation on poaching and illicit trade activities. They also exchanged best practices and techniques on combating wildlife and forest crime. Participants expressed support for developing a network of wildlife enforcement networks or groups and recognized the value of the meeting, hosted by the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC).

Operation COBRA

Between 6 January and 5 February 2013, representatives from the Office of China National Interagency CITES Enforcement Coordination Group (NICECG), Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF) , Nepalese Police (Representing South Asia-Wildlife Enforcement Network), South African Police Service, India’s Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), Indonesian Police, Vietnamese Environmental Police, Royal Thai Police, Association of Southeast Asia Nations Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Regional Intelligence Liaison Office for Customs in the Asia/Pacific region (RILO A/P) worked jointly and coordinated OPERATION COBRA as an International Coordination Team (ICT) based in Bangkok. Real time sharing of information amongst the agencies and across borders characterized the ITC, regional and national coordinators. The month-long effort was described as “An international, intelligence-driven operation aimed at dismantling organized wildlife crime syndicates with significant results and the prospect for more.” The operation was a welcome and innovative initiative from countries, the first international effort of its kind to focus on the sharing of investigation information in real time among countries and a concerted response by law enforcement agencies of implicated countries and partnering institutions towards curtailing rampant wildlife crime. It facilitated increased cooperation among range, transit and consumer countries where significant seizures of contraband wildlife specimens and arrests of suspects involved were recorded. The use of specialized investigation techniques was promoted and a number of follow up investigations into the seizures were initiated.

The ICT, chaired by China, constantly maintained contact with operation teams at regional and national levels. The operation yielded hundreds of arrests which included seizures of assorted wildlife specimens; mainly 42,000kg of red sander wood, 6,500kg of elephant ivory, 1,550kg of shatoosh (around 10,000 Tibetean antelopes must have been killed to collect such an amount of this wool), 2,600 live snakes, 324 hornbills, 102 pangolins, 800kg of pangolin scales, 22 rhino horns and 4 rhino horn carvings, 10 tiger and 7 leopard trophies, 31kg elephant meat as well as claws and teeth of protected felid animals and plant species. Assorted equipment including fire arms and ammunitions were also recovered from poachers during the operation.

The operation was proposed by officials of NICECG and ASEAN-WEN in 2012 under the Special Investigation Group, organized by China, the USA, South Africa, ASEAN-WEN, SAWEN and LATF, assisted by the World Customs Organization (WCO), the CITES Secretariat, and International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL ). The operation targeted species under serious threats such as big cats, elephants, rhinos, pangolins and great apes. Many countries participated including: Botswana, Cambodia, Cameroon, China, Congo (Brazzaville), Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Laos, Malaysia, Mozambique, Nepal, Singapore, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, USA, Vietnam and Zambia. FREELAND Foundation provided Operation COBRA with information on wildlife crime that was collected over several years.

Operation COBRA was financially supported by the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s African Elephant Conservation Fund, Royal Thai Police, China Wildlife Conservation Association and the FREELAND Foundation with in-kind contributions by participating countries.


The Special Investigation Group (SIG) came into force during the 3rd Annual Meeting of ASEAN-WEN, Special Investigation Group sub-meeting facilitated by INTERPOL and supported by the ASEAN-WEN Support Program (now ARREST Program implemented by FREELAND Foundation), 27 May 2008, Vientiane, Lao PDR. A consensus was reached during this meeting that each country needs to assign officers to collect information on illegal pangolin trafficking and reconvene a meeting to conduct cross border investigations targeting the illegal traders. Since this first meeting the Special Investigation Group has continued to reconvene operational meetings mainly at the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) to exchange information with expanded mandate to include, Asian big cats, ivory and rhino horn. The Special Investigation Group has also expanded membership from ASEAN, South Asia, China and the US to now also include African law enforcement agencies and enforcement networks. Operation COBRA was conceived as a direct follow-up operation of a global SIG training at the ILEA in Sept 2012 in Bangkok, Thailand. Over 30 law enforcement officers from Asia, Africa and the United States participated in the SIG to conduct joint training and operational planning aimed at dismantling criminal syndicates responsible for the ongoing slaughter of elephants, rhinos, tigers and other endangered species. The Sept 2012, SIG training event was organized by FREELAND Foundation and sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, with technical assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development through its "Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking" (ARREST) Program.

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Hmawbi, Yangon, Myanmar, 15 February 2013 - Law enforcement officers from across Myanmar participated in a series of workshops on wildlife trade and species identification last month, getting hands on training that will strengthen the resource-rich country’s ability to battle wildlife traffickers.

The workshops were organized and delivered by frontline officers who received prior training under a project funded by The Ministry of Environment-Japan, the secretariat of the East and Southeast Asia Biodiversity Information Initiative (ESABII).

The course aimed to provide taxonomic and legal information necessary to allow officers to identify species they find in trade; essential skills in the enforcement of wildlife trade legislation and protection of endangered species.

Over 60 participants attended the workshop including officers from the Myanmar Forestry Department, Myanmar Police Force, Department of Fisheries, Department of Border Trade, Customs Department, Myanmar Port Authority, Department of Rural Development, Immigration Department, Directorate of Trade Union, Office of the Attorney General, the General Administration Department and representatives of the local District Law Office.

Mr.Manop Lauprasert, senior officer of ASEAN-WEN Program Coordination Unit

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