Collecting evidence, sharing information, and ensuring justice
The industrial scale of wildlife crime affects communities and ecosystems all over the world. We gather and share actionable information to ensure wildlife criminals are brought to justice.
The Wildlife Justice Commission works in collaboration with partners in key fields across the globe. We continually share information with national and international law enforcement agencies, intergovernmental organisations, and NGOs – whether this be intelligence for immediate action, information on new trafficking trends and methodologies, confidential briefings and reports, or covert film and images.
We focus on providing actionable, legally admissible evidence for national authorities to act upon – the cases which we helped build and have been prosecuted by the relevant national authorities have a 100% conviction rate.
Our goals in providing this standard of information are twofold: holding wildlife traffickers to account for their wrongdoings and holding governments accountable for maintaining the rule of law.
We provide national authorities with our evidence and attempt to engage them through a dialogue process. Following this process, if there is still insufficient action taken to disrupt the criminal networks identified, we can then convene a Public Hearing as a last resort.
A Public Hearing is a powerful tool for accountability: it aims to persuade the relevant government to act upon the evidence provided and validates our Case File through review by an independent, impartial panel of experts, which submits recommendations for how best to ensure justice for wildlife.
What is a Case File?
For investigations that result in a Case File, we establish a dialogue with national authorities of the key governments involved to encourage them and their law enforcement authorities to act.
A Case File is a detailed and highly actionable document mapping out the criminal networks and their illicit activities, which we share with national authorities, who can put it to immediate use. The Case File is affirmed by a member of the Independent Review Panel before it is delivered to the relevant authorities.
The main objective of the Case File is to help law enforcement agencies to bring alleged wildlife criminals to justice. To date, the Wildlife Justice Commission has served case files to the authorities of Vietnam in 2016 and 2017, and Lao PDR.
Our work is not intended to replace or circumvent domestic processes, so a dialogue is important to ensure a strong partnership. However, there is also an urgent need to stop wildlife trafficking and ensure those responsible are held accountable, so if governments do not take action, the Wildlife Justice Commission will convene a Public Hearing, as a last resort, hosted by an Independent Review Panel, to examine the Case File, and determine the action that could and should be taken.
Public Hearing on wildlife trafficking in Vietnam
In November 2016, we convened the only Public Hearing we have held to date, concerning an 18-month investigation in Vietnam, where the Panel confirmed the Case File and offered recommendations to the Vietnamese authorities and other stakeholders.
Action soon followed; several arrests were made in April 2017 and indictments were issued within ten days, including one of the major rhino traffickers and head of one of the five syndicates identified in the area. The arrest of such a high-level trafficker was unprecedented, and the speed at which he was indicted even more so.
An on-going, productive relationship has since been built with the authorities in Vietnam. More details on the Vietnam case and this extensive investigation can be found in our Operation Phoenix briefing.
Watch the summary video of the Public Hearing held in the Peace Palace in The Hague in November 2016: