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Customs officials training set to cut the flow of illegally trafficked wildlife

Customs officials training set to cut the flow of illegally trafficked wildlife

The U.S. Embassy supported an operational planning training course for customs and other law enforcement agencies presented by the World Customs Organization (WCO) for officials from fourteen different countries earlier this week.

The course was funded in full by the U.S. government’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). The training course focused on operational planning that will enable customs officers to stem the flow of illegally trafficked wildlife.

According to the embassy, officers and officials that participated in the course are able to immediately implement this specialized training in their daily duties in border security, law enforcement, and immigration to deter the flow of illegally trafficked goods.

The training is part of the World Customs Organization INAMA Project (INAMA means ‘wild animals’ in the language of the Zambian Bemba tribe). The INAMA Project focuses on strengthening the enforcement capacity of targeted Customs administrations in Sub-Saharan Africa, while focusing on the illegal trade in wildlife (fauna and flora) and in particular endangered species as defined by CITES.

The U.S. has been supporting this project with US$1 million over the past three years.

The workshop was attended by 30 participants representing Customs administrations and designated mid-level postal operators from Angola, Botswana, Ghana, Hong Kong, Malawi, Malaysia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Singapore, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, Vietnam, and Zambia.

In his opening remarks, U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission John Kowalski noted all countries have systems in place to facilitate the legal movement of goods. However, it is their duties to “find better operational ways to stop the movement of illegal goods”. He therefore expressed appreciation to all invited customs officials who have taken the time and traveled from afar to attend this important workshop.

Acting Head of Namibian Customs at the Ministry of Finance Uazapi Maendo acknowledged the importance stating that in order to safely protect conservancies, trainings such as these should be carried out continuously as they enhance participant’s knowledge in areas of wildlife trade through customs and important WCO tools in strengthening cross-border relations between countries. Training began with recollection of the successful partnership presented by the WCO experts, particularly in the areas of basic intelligence, operations, and prosecution.

Furthermore, WCO Customs Moderation Advisor Matthew Bannon shared current challenges and opportunities presented by increasing interest in the trading of illegal animal products, particularly in areas such as conservation, management, and economic issues.

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