The government of Viet Nam has announced plans to destroy two tons of ivory and 70kgs of rhino horn, seized from illegal traders, on Saturday 12 November 2016. While this sounds like a good idea – after all, it seems to show that Viet Nam is taking a stand against illegal ivory, in fact the event is largely symbolic in a country where wildlife traffickers are allowed to conduct their business on a grand scale and with complete impunity.
Viet Nam is under increasing international pressure to take action regarding its unenviable position as a global hub for illegal trade in endangered species. The proposed ivory / rhino horn destruction will take place days before the Wildlife Justice Commission holds a Public Hearing on our Nhi Khe, Viet Nam investigation, and before the international wildlife community attends the IWT Conference in Hanoi .
Over the past month, Vietnamese authorities have been vocal about a number of seizures – but notably there have been no meaningful arrests – in a bid to be seen to be taking action.
Unfortunately, this is a hollow gesture. To date, the Vietnamese government has not taken any significant action to stem the illegal wildlife trade. Wildlife traffickers are very seldom arrested, arrests are rarely followed by successful prosecutions, and kingpin level traffickers enjoy impunity.
Our investigation provided over 5,000 pages of evidence, establishing systematic violations of the Viet Nam penal code and wildlife legislation, and providing details on a criminal network of 51 individuals centered in Nhi Khe, a village south of Hanoi. Our evidence included strong indications of government complicity.
Read full article on Huffington Post here.