January 14, 2015

Southeast Asian Special Investigation Groups Trained on Curbing Marine Wildlife Trafficking

January 2015

In the summer of 2014, the FREELAND Foundation, an ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) partner, trained members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ Marine Special Investigation Group (SIG) on counter marine wildlife trafficking. Held in Cebu, the Philippines, the training focused on how to prosecute those who poach endangered species.

Peter Ritchie, ABA ROLI’s regional anti-corruption advisor, assisted in conducting the training by presenting on exploitation and money laundering, providing examples of actual scenarios of maritime corruption in Southeast Asia. Ritchie also highlighted problems associated with unenforced punishments and open borders that allow wildlife trafficking to persist in the region.

The SIG comprises law enforcement officers, whose mandates include identifying and monitoring wildlife trafficking offenders and preventing the widespread corruption that often undermines international maritime laws. Training participants—representatives of coast guard forces, police, customs, fishery agencies and prosecutors from 10 countries of the region—said that the training provided a venue for participating nations to communicate and collaborate, heightening their interest in employing anti-money laundering strategies and asset confiscation to tackle marine wildlife trafficking.

The training is an outcome from the APEC Pathfinder Dialogue, a gathering of more than 150 representatives of Asia and Pacific countries, held in September 2013 to discuss corruption-enabled transnational crimes.

To learn more about our work in the ASEAN, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at rol@americanbar.org.