Hands-on Event Provides MPs with the Knowledge to Develop Strong Wildlife Protection Laws
BANGKOK, December 4, 2015: On December 6, representatives from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will arrive in Bangkok to take part in the three-day ‘ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) – Ranger Interaction, Field Mission and Networking Dialogue’. Set to join are representatives from all over Southeast Asia, as well as Thai government officials and international conservation organizations.
In a break from the norm – and a first for the region – policy makers will be observing rangers at work in the field. On the agenda is a visit to Kui Buri National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site nominee) and two days at the US-Thailand Tactical Training Center in Cha-am, as well as roundtable discussions, presentations and information sharing sessions. During the training center visit, the delegates will join 20 rangers, who will have traveled from protected areas in Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia and Thailand, and are currently undergoing a 16-day managers’ training course that covers command training, lead and management enforcement operations.
These courses are conducted by ASEAN-WEN and its Support Program, Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking (ARREST), funded by the U.S. Agency of International Development, with additional financial assistance from INL (Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs). As ASEAN-WEN prepares to celebrate its 10th anniversary this year, despite a 10-fold increase in seizures worth USD 90 million, over 1,500 arrests in the last six years and with a 10 percent conviction rate. With the fate of critically endangered species – such as tigers, rhinos and elephants – in both Asia and Africa in the balance, finding out how to financially sustain ASEAN-WEN and help continue its vital mission will be priorities in the discussions held between ARREST, ASEAN Center for Biodiversity, ASEANAPOL, ASEAN-WEN and AIPA.
The unique itinerary of this event, organized by Freeland, is designed to give the parliamentarians first-hand experience of the day-to-day lives of rangers, as well as the potential challenges, dangers and inconveniences they encounter. This is intended to help the lawmakers create and adjust relevant wildlife protection legislation as effectively as possible.
During the three-day event, a group of ‘Champion MPs’ will be selected to form a parliamentary support group to shepherd inter-ASEAN wildlife crime legislation review, exchanges and enhancements. A tentative action plan will be established for the group by the end of the visit.
The event follows a historic declaration by ASEAN Security Ministers earlier this year, ranking wildlife and timber trafficking on the same level as other major transnational crimes such as arms, drugs and people smuggling. It also aligns with the 2013 U.S. Presidential Executive Order on Combating Wildlife Trafficking, which prioritizes expanding international cooperation to support governments in building capacity to enforce wildlife trafficking laws, and investigate and prosecute wildlife crime.
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The ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) is a regional legislative networking body comprising legislatures from all 10 ASEAN member states which seeks for enhancing common legal framework through the ‘AIPA Caucus’, a core group of parliamentarians, mandated to advocate harmonization of laws in prime issues such as drug and human trafficking, health, women, security and economic and political matters.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is the lead U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient societies to realize their potential. Following 50 years of improving lives through development and humanitarian assistance, USAID is the principal U.S. Government development agency partnering with countries throughout the world to promote peace, prosperity and security. Please visit www.usaid.gov or follow www.facebook.com/USAIDAsia for more information.
Freeland is a frontline counter-trafficking organization working for a world that is free of wildlife trafficking and human slavery. Our team of law enforcement, development and communications specialists work alongside partners in Asia, Africa and the Americas to build capacity, raise awareness, strengthen networks and promote good governance to protect critical ecosystems and vulnerable people. Freeland is also the lead implementing partner of “ARREST” (Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking), the U.S. Government’s largest counter-wildlife trafficking program, which is sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). For more info, visit www.freeland.org also; follow Freeland on twitter @FREELANDpeople or facebook.com/freelandfoundation