Bangkok (Thailand), 22 April 2022 - Once an emerging threat, wildlife and forestry crime today has transformed into one of the largest transnational organized criminal activities in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, generating an estimated $19.5B USD annually. Of this, the illegal harvesting and trafficking of timber alone is worth approximately $17B USD per year, making it the second-highest value illicit commodity in the region. Unlike other illicit commodities, the illegal trade of wildlife and timber products is often embedded in legitimate trade, making it difficult to detect. It frequently converges with other serious crimes, and is fuelled by corruption, fraud, lax regulation, and poor law enforcement.
The forestry sector in Southeast Asia is especially vulnerable to corruption. This can be caused by a multitude of factors, from weak governance of forest resources, unclear forest tenure, corruption in timber supply chains, and the region’s proximity to consumer markets and timber processing industries in China continue to make Southeast Asia’s timber species high-value targets for criminal networks. Penalties for environmental crimes are often weak, and legal frameworks require reform in many jurisdictions in the region. Underpinning it all, high levels of corruption greatly facilitate the illegal trade of wildlife and timber, disabling investigations and prosecutions, and posing a serious threat to national governance.
To address these issues, UNODC, in collaboration with Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP), and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment hosted a Corruption Risk Assessment workshop related to wildlife trafficking on 20-22 April 2022. This training gathered 31 participants from the DNP and relevant law enforcement agencies including the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division of the Royal Thai Police, Customs Department, Office of the Attorney General, Royal Forest Department, Department of Special Investigation, and Office of Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission.
Some highlights of the workshop were a presentation of the study: “Corruption Risks in the Wildlife Management Sector in Thailand,” which provided an overview of corruption as related to wildlife trafficking and a presentation on “Global Efforts to Combat Corruption in Wildlife matters related to CITES.”
Law enforcement agencies such as the NACC, DNP, Customs Department and the Royal Thai Police also presented existing measures and assessment tools for tackling corruption, prior to the workshop participants engaging in a risk identification process through group discussion. During the Corruption Risk Assessment, the participants analysed the risks for corruption in the wildlife sector in Thailand and produced corresponding evaluations.
The training was organized in close partnership with the Thailand DNP, who helped to promote the workshop by recruiting the participants as well as liaising with government counterparts for their participation.
This training was part of activities funded by the Ministry of Justice of Government of the Republic of Korea.
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