Khouth Sophak Chakrya, The Phnom Penh Post
As a member of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), Cambodia has been pursuing ways to improve its law enforcement activities to prevent and crack down on the trafficking of elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn.
A statement issued on Monday by Kun Nhem, the director-general of the General Department of Customs and Excise said: “Despite the government’s concerted efforts, illegal trafficking of elephant ivory, rhinoceros horns and products made from elephant tusks and rhinoceros horns continues and damages the country’s reputation on the international stage”.
Nhem issued six action plans in the statement, including the establishment of an undercover customs network to identify suspected smugglers and obtain more information about trafficking in ivory and rhinoceros horn.
He said officials need to undergo training so they are able to assess the information printed on billing orders, invoices, packages and other documents and identify prohibited items.
Nhem also instructed all custom and excise units to enhance their cooperation with local authorities and experts from other organisations in order to better monitor, control and take legal action against all cases of ivory and rhinoceros horn trafficking.
He said the authorities see these illegal goods all across the country, not just on the borders and at ports and international airports.
“The illegal import, export and transit of ivory and rhino horns, and artefacts made from them is a crime subject to judicial proceedings.”
“So customs and excise authorities, as the ‘owner’ of the case, must file a complaint to the relevant court in accordance with proper legal procedure,” Nhem’s statement said.
Nhem said these measures are intended to further strengthen the ability of customs officials to carry out the fight against illegal trafficking of wildlife and thus enhance the nation’s image.
Ministry of Environment secretary of state and spokesperson Neth Pheaktra said these measures reflect Cambodia’s active participation in international cooperation in the fight against illegal smuggling and trafficking of wild animals.
“The Ministry of Environment welcomes the participation of all stakeholders to work together toward the elimination of illegal smuggling and trafficking of wildlife in Cambodia,” he said.