On July 24th, 2020, the Prime Minister issued Directive No. 29/CT-TTg on a number of urgent measures for wildlife management to tackle the illegal wildlife trade and consumption (Directive No. 29/CT-TTg). This is one of the major efforts of the Government to reduce threats to public health and ensure the future of many wild species in danger of extinction by illegal trade and consumption in Việt Nam and other countries in the region.
Necessity to issue Directive No. 29/CT-TTg
Over the past years, implementing the policies of the Party, the Government has gradually perfected the legal system of wildlife management, conservation and sustainable development. The Law on Forestry 2017 stipulates: “It is strictly forbidden to hunt, capture, raise, confine, kill, store, transport and trade forest animals, and collect specimens of forest flora and fauna species in contravention of the Law". The Prime Minister also issued Directive No. 03/CT-TTg dated 20/2/2014 on strengthening the direction and implementation of measures to control and conserve endangered, precious and rare wildlife and the Directive. No. 28/CT-TTg dated September 17th, 2016 on a number of urgent solutions to prevent and fight against illegal wildlife abuse. The Government issued Decree No. 06/2019/ND-CP dated January 22th, 2019 on management of endangered, precious and rare species of forest fauna and flora and observation of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Thus, it can be seen that strengthening the enforcement of national laws, CITES and relevant international treaties is Vietnam's consistent directing and implementing viewpoint in practice in order to responsibly implement relevant international commitments.
In general, Vietnam's legal framework on wildlife management is fundamentally complete, meeting the requirements of adjusting chain social relations, and ranked group A by the CITES Secretariat (the country with the best legal system). All levels and branches have had more drastic and comprehensive solutions to put the law into practice, especially to fight and destroy the illegal transportation, trade and consumption of wildlife species, creating the positive and clear change in many aspects. However, illegal wildlife trade, transportation and consumption, especially organized violations involving both domestic and international subjects, are still complicated. Many wildlife species continue to decline in numbers, being in danger of extinction which leads to adversely affect on ecological balance; Along with that, there is also a potential risk of transmitting diseases to humans, cattle and poultry, threatening public health and economic development of the country.
Currently, in the context of countries around the world fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, wildlife trade and consumption has been identified as one of the biggest environmental causes of zoonosis. Therefore, Directive No. 29/CT-TTg was issued, expressing Vietnam's determination to improve regulations on wildlife trade and consumption, and at the same time showing the Government's drastic will in disposing of exhibits storage of wildlife on CITES list, including ivory and rhino horn. This can be seen as a major step forward for Việt Nam in reducing threats to public health as well as securing the future of many wild species in danger of extinction by illegal trade and consumption in Việt Nam and other countries in the region.
The highlights of Directive No. 29 /CT-TTg
In order to ensure strict enforcement of the wildlife management laws, the Prime Minister has instructed to stop the import of living or dead wildlife, eggs, larvae, organs and derivatives of wildlife species (except for aquatic species serving the production and processing of food and animal feed that have been announced in accordance with the law; parts of wildlife that have been processed as medicinal herbs, used as raw materials for production or finished products) until there is a new direction from the Prime Minister or in special cases permitted by the Prime Minister. All cases of wildlife import in contradiction to this Directive must be strictly dealt as illegal activities in accordance with the law on wildlife; for wildlife, which has been granted export permit by a foreign CITES management agency to Việt Nam, the border-gate customs office will request the commodity owner to return it to the place of export. In case the goods owner fails to do so or the goods owner cannot be identified, it shall be handled in accordance with Vietnamese law as illegal wildlife.
Resolutely eliminate the illegal wildlife markets and places
According to respectively assigned functions and powers, relevant ministries review the legal system and propose to respective authorities to amend and supplement the sanctions against illegal wildlife consumption; Resolutely eliminate illegal wildlife markets and places; Strictly control and handle acts of hunting, catching, buying, selling, transporting, slaughtering, consuming, storing, advertising, and violating wildlife, especially which of mammal, avian and reptile class in the wild. All citizens, especially officials, civil servants, public employees and their relatives are not involved in illegal hunting, catching, buying, selling, transporting, slaughtering, consuming, storing and advertising wildlife.
Accordingly, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development presides over and coordinates with relevant Ministries, agencies and the People's Committees of provinces and Central cities to seriously implement solutions to manage wildlife. Strengthen the direction of inspection, examination and supervision of wildlife breeding activities. Wildlife breeding and export must ensure legal origin, food safety and hygiene. Organizing inspection and examination on a wide range of wildlife farms, ensuring the legal origin of animals, safety conditions for animals and humans, environmental sanitation and disease safety. Timely detect and strictly handle violations in accordance with the provisions of law, especially the violations of the origin of the wild animals in breeding facilities. Establishing a database of commercial breeding facilities of wildlife species on the list of endangered, precious and rare forest animals issued together with Decree No. 06/2019/ND-CP January 22th, 2019 by the Government and species listed in CITES’ Appendices I and II; publicize on the website of the Ministry for the whole society to monitor and supervise. Strengthen direction of disease surveillance and veterinary hygiene measures in wildlife breeding and trading facilities. Continuing to summarize the practice, amending, supplementing and completing a comprehensive and fully legal system on wildlife management, submitting to the Government for promulgation criteria and list of domesticated wild animals to manage according to the provisions of the Law on Livestock Production and CITES.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is responsible for state management of biodiversity; review current legal regulations, propose, develop and submit to respective authorities to amend and supplement regulations on management of endangered, precious and rare species prioritized for protection in accordance with regulations of law on biodiversity.
Strengthen sanctions for illegal consumption of wildlife
One of the emphasized contents in Directive No. 29/CT-TTg is to strictly handle violations related to wildlife. Accordingly, the Ministry of Public Security has directed functional forces to strengthen prevention, combat, timely detect and strictly handle violations related to wildlife; especially focusing on destroying transnational organized crime lines in illegal purchase, storage, transportation, export, import, temporary import for re-export, and transit of wildlife’s specimens; coordinate with related units to inspect and handle illegally advertising, buying and selling wildlife’s specimens on websites. The Ministry of Defense shall direct the Border Guards and Coast Guard to coordinate with functional forces to intensify patrols and strictly control at border gates, border trails and in the sea; promptly detect, arrest and handle cases of illegal purchase, transportation, export, import, temporary import for re-export of wildlife in accordance with law; promote propaganda and awareness raising of people in border areas to not illegally hunt, catch, raise, sell, and transport wildlife. The Ministry of Industry and Trade instructs market surveillance forces to strengthen market inspection and control, prevent and promptly handle acts of trading, transporting and trading of endangered, rare and precious wildlife species; products and derivatives thereof according to the functions, tasks and powers assigned.
The Supreme People's Procuracy and the Supreme People's Court coordinate closely with investigation agencies to promote the investigation and prosecution of illegal entities on hunting, catching, buying, and selling, transportation, slaughter and possession of wildlife; improve the quality of judgement of cases related to endangered, rare and precious wildlife; increase mobile courts to serve the propaganda and education on wildlife protection; impose severe penalties on instigators and leaders who abuse positions and powers to commit crimes and professional offenders related to the protection of endangered, rare and precious wildlife.
The people's committees of the provinces and central cities shall direct agencies and units in the locality to implement measures to protect natural wildlife; strengthen control of wildlife exploitation, hunting, catching, transporting, storing, trading, consuming and consuming; completely organized the destruction of illegal wildlife trade lines; Strengthening management and inspection of wildlife facilities on compliance with legal requirements on origin, veterinary hygiene, environment protection and food safety. Organize and deploy for businesses in the area to sign commitments not to buy, sell, use, consume, display and advertise wildlife specimens that do not guarantee the legal origin and strictly handle of violations.
Thus, it can be seen that a number of highlights in Directive No. 29/CT-TTg are resolutely eliminating illegal wildlife shopping and selling markets; plans to destroy ivory and rhino horn exhibits currently in storage; more strictly control and management of captive wildlife, including tigers; suspend import of wildlife; review the system of legal documents to strengthen sanctions for illegal wildlife consumption and prohibit people, especially Government officials and their relatives, from consuming wildlife products. It is hoped that with the determination of the Government, the participation of authorities, the consensus of the people, Directive No. 29/CT-TTg can create a major turning point in wildlife conservation in Việt Nam.
Nguyễn Thị Nga
Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD)
(Nguồn: Bài đăng trên Tạp chí Môi trường số Chuyên đề Tiếng Anh III/2020)