Today, the Wildlife Justice Commission published a new report focusing on the role of corruption as one of the most important enabling factors behind wildlife crime, in an attempt to bring more clarity to this murky subject. Corruption is the air that wildlife crime breathes; it is one of the key enablers of widespread and large-scale wildlife trafficking and one of the biggest obstacles to effective law enforcement.
The report, Dirty Money: The Role of Corruption in Enabling Wildlife Crime, presents a collection of case examples to illustrate the mechanisms and modalities of corruption in real terms – how it facilitates the movement of wildlife shipments along all stages of the supply chain from source to market, and how it can serve criminality by obstructing the criminal justice response, allowing criminal networks to operate with impunity. This report also highlights the harm caused by corruption and urges strong action to counter it.
By zeroing in on the role of corruption, the report aims to assist law enforcement and policy makers to:
- Understand how corrupt acts can present in relation to wildlife crime.
- Identify points of potential corruption risk in the wildlife trade supply chain.
- Consider practical measures that could be taken to mitigate and address these risks.
The report also provides a detailed rhino horn trafficking case study that highlights the close links between crime enabling factors and areas of corruption risk, many of which can be addressed together with the use of standard law enforcement methodologies and tools such as intelligence analysis, specialised investigation techniques, financial investigations, and international cooperation.
The report sheds light on the gap that exists between the legal frameworks that address corruption enabled wildlife crime and their enforcement in practice. It urges that more needs to be done to translate international commitments into integrated, tangible actions on the ground to prevent, detect, investigate, and prosecute corruption in relation to wildlife crime.
Wildlife crime and corruption must be addressed in a more connected way, rather than being treated as two separate issues in law enforcement responses. Levelling the playing field will require an innovative and cohesive approach on the part of all stakeholders to identify the high-risk areas for corruption, develop the means to prevent, investigate, and prosecute corrupt activities, and establish a robust framework to tackle corruption along the wildlife supply chain.