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Hong Kong Needs Tougher Laws To Tackle Wildlife Crime Say Researchers

Researchers said Hong Kong is prospering as a cross-border wildlife smuggling hub because its law is not strong enough to tackle organized crime carrying lucrative trade.

The semi-autonomous region, with its busy harbors and transportation, is a major transit point for the illegal parts of endangered species such as elephants, rhinos and pangolins, most of which are headed to consumers in mainland China.

Record seizures have occurred in recent years.

However, researchers at the University of Hong Kong said the confiscation masked the lack of progress, saying, “No wildlife traffickers have been charged with money laundering-related crimes and have been charged with wildlife smuggling. There is no syndication, “he said.

A two-year study, written by law professor Amanda Whitfort and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals, Fiona Woodhouse, has highlighted a major flaw in the city’s fight against multi-million dollar deals.

The most obvious problem they wrote was that wildlife smuggling was not as seriously classified as illegal drugs and trafficking.

Hong Kong’s serious criminal law, which has been enforced against “triad” criminal groups, includes broad investigative powers against police, including intelligence gathering, and heavier judgments against convicted persons.





Hong Kong, with its busy port and transportation links, is a major transit point for the illegal parts of endangered species such as elephants.
AFP / Anthony Wallace

However, wildlife smuggling is not listed as one of the areas subject to the law, and researchers believe that including it will enable better research into trade.

Over the past seven years, Hong Kong customs have trafficked more than HK $ 767 million ($ 99 million) in the wild, including 22 tonnes of ivory, 70 tonnes of pangolins and 66 tonnes of other endangered species. The report states that it has seized the organism.

However, the number of prosecutions remains low while seizures are increasing.

Compared to other foreign jurisdictions, Hong Kong’s ruling was “generous, imprisonment was rare, and most criminals were fined less than 10 percent of the value of smuggled goods.” Found.

In May 2018, the largest penalties for smuggling endangered species were raised to 10 years in prison and a fine of HK $ 10 million.

However, reviewers said some sentencing tariffs were still below international standards.

Wildlife crime is taken as seriously as the trafficking of drugs, firearms, humans and counterfeit goods by the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.



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