IFAW welcomes European Parliament call for stronger action to combat illegal wildlife trafficking

IFAW welcomes European Parliament call for stronger action to combat illegal wil
Thursday, 24 November, 2016
Strasburg, France

Today, the European Parliament voted with 567 votes in favour (and 6 against), an important own-initiative report by Catherine Bearder MEP (ALDE, UK) in response to the Commission publication of the  EU action plan against wildlife trafficking last 26th of February (see note to the editors below).

IFAW warmly welcomes this excellent report, which suggests various ways in which the Commission’s Action Plan can be further strengthened.

The report, among other important provisions, highlights the need to provide adequate financial resources in the EU budget and the national budgets in order to ensure effective implementation of this plan, to provide guidance to ensure that animal rescue centers are of adequate standards, that Member States should report all seized live specimens to EU Trade in Wildlife Information Exchange (EU-TWIX) and that annual summary reports should be published.

In particular, IFAW finds very timely the call from the Plenary of a full and immediate ban at EU level on trade, export or re-export of ivory and rhinoceros horns including pre-Convention (CITES) ivory. Indeed, the current EU regulations only permit the sale of antique or so-called pre-Convention ivory that was acquired before elephants were included in the CITES Appendices, and therefore, ivory is still on sale in many EU countries on markets, auctions, antique shops and online. There is evidence, however, that new illegal ivory is also treated to look antique and traded with counterfeit permits. Furthermore, EU countries are apparently being used as transit countries to smuggle illegal ivory from elephants poached in Africa to Asia. This is evidenced by recent large seizures, e.g. of 1.2 tonnes in Germany and more than 600 kg in France this year, both destined for Vietnam and the recent 560 kg seized in Vienna.

MEPs also called on EU leaders to engage with the operators of social media platforms, search engines and e-commerce platforms on the problem of the illegal internet trade in wildlife.

According to IFAWs investigations the internet is becoming booming business for wildlife traffickers who have access to a worldwide market with very little chance of being caught and high profit eventually. The European Parliament said that on-line control measures should be strengthened, and policies developed to address potentially illegal activity on the internet.

The European Commission’s action plan and the vote today in the European Parliament have recognized the urgent need to tackle wildlife trafficking at the European level, given the key role that Europe has on wildlife trade. Member States must now seriously face the problem within their territory; improve cooperation, data sharing, applying tougher penalties and train police and prosecutors to combat the organized criminal killing of wildlife.

IFAW will continue to work on the implementation and enforcement by the Member States and the Commission of this action plan with a particular focus on cybercrime and on the closure of the EU domestic ivory trade market. 

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Note to the editors

The action plan, which was launched by the Commission in February 2016 and endorsed by the Council in June 2016, aims at combatting illegal wildlife trade by improving the implementation of existing legislation and raising awareness about the seriousness of this type of crime. The action plan comprises 32 measures to be taken by EU institutions and/or Member States to improve the implementation of existing wildlife regulations, in particular, Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97, which implements the CITES Convention. The action plan is based on three priorities: prevention and addressing the root causes, improving enforcement of existing rules and strengthening cooperation between countries worldwide. Within these priorities IFAW had already identified some possible improvements and expressed those in its Position Paper  together with other animal welfare NGOs.

 

About IFAW

Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Photos are available at www.ifawimages.com.

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Elsayed Ahmed Mohamed, Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Dr. Joseph Okori
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Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
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Faye Cuevas, Esq.
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Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Jeffrey Flocken, Regional Director, North America
Regional Director, North America
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Peter LaFontaine, Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
Country Representative, Germany
Country Representative, Germany
Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy