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HK a wildlife trading hub, but none ever prosecuted, HKU report says

Original image as provided by The Standard

The Standard | October 23, 2020

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No wildlife traffickers have ever been prosecuted in Hong Kong for money laundering related offenses and no syndicates indicted for wildlife smuggling, although the city is a wildlife trading hub, a report says.

The government has continued to fail to recognize wildlife crimes as specified offenses under the Organised and Serious Crimes Ordinance, says a report by University of Hong Kong law professor, Amanda Whitfort. She is an  associate professor of the faculty of law.

The report says recognizing wildlife crimes as serious crimes, like other trafficking offenses, under the Organised and Serious Crimes Ordinance, would unleash the full force of investigative powers necessary to effectively combat Hong Kong’s increasingly serious wildlife trafficking problem.

The study recommends amending the Organised and Serious Crimes Ordinance, Cap 455, to include serious wildlife crimes as specified offenses.

Between 2013 and 2020, seizures made by the Customs and Excise Department represented over HK$767 million in trafficked wildlife, including 22 metric tonnes of ivory (requiring the slaughter of about 3,000 elephants), 70 metric tonnes of pangolin (the scales and carcasses of which are estimated to have involved the killing of over 188,000 pangolins) and 66 metric tonnes of other endangered species (mainly reptiles).

Reported wildlife smuggling cases prosecuted in mainland China between 2014 and 2018 show that, in 50 percent of cases involving the smuggling of rhino horn and tiger bone, the contraband entered the mainland via Hong Kong.