Dubai Customs has taken part in a regional seminar, titled “Countering Illicit Trade – A Legal Perspective”, organised by the Bahrain Royal Academy of Police and the General Directorate of Anti-Corruption and Economic and Electronic Security in Bahrain, in cooperation with INTERPOL. The seminar took place on October 20-23, 2014.
Representing Dubai Customs at the seminar were Saeed Ahmed Al Tayer, Acting Executive Director of Policies & Legislation Division, and Talal Al Abdooli, Director of Customs Intelligence Department.
Al Tayer delivered a presentation at the seminar, titled “Combating Wildlife Crimes”, where he emphasised that the protection of the UAE’s natural environment, both on land and offshore, has long been a major focus of the government, with the first laws to regulate hunting and to protect wildlife having been passed nearly 30 years ago.
Al Tayer pointed out that the UAE is a party to many international conventions protecting the environment, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which the UAE ratified in 1990. This stems out from the country’s belief that the only way to reduce the proliferation of wildlife crimes is to promote a co-ordinated action on a global scale.
Out of its keenness on implementing and complying with international agreements and legislations as well as local laws Dubai Customs is compliant with CITES provisions to curb the growing menace of illegal wildlife trade in the region, Al Tayer added.
“Dubai Customs strives to provide its employees and other concerned entities in the UAE with sufficient training to implement GITES procedures and identify wild species and their derived products widely traded internationally and regionally, in line with its measures to counter illicit trade of all forms,” he said.
Dubai Customs’ senior official remarked that measures taken by DC in this regard also include carrying out awareness campaigns at shopping malls, schools, universities and clubs in general, to familiarize the public of CITES-listed species and the adverse impact of trading in them on wildlife.
“Dubai Customs has adopted the Green Customs initiative, an international initiative launched by the United Nations Environment Program in 2003, in cooperation with WCO, Interpol and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC),” he noted.
Al Tayer concluded his presentation by stressing that preserving the environment is a responsibility jointly shouldered by local and international agencies for a better future for humans and a sustainable development of communities.
On the other hand, Talal Al Abdooli showcased DC’s efforts in countering illicit trade and wildlife crimes, such as advancing the skills and competencies of its cadre and the deployment of latest inspection and screening devices at all ports.
The Director of Customs Intelligence Department at Dubai Customs further added “From January 2012 to August 2014, Dubai Customs made 197 seizures of endangered wild fauna and flora and their products, as per the provision of CITES. In one seizure, 259 pieces of raw elephant ivory have been seized in a shipment, disguised as furniture being transported from an unspecified African country. In another seizure, Dubai Customs intercepted a shipment of 215 elephant tusks en route from Kenya to Hong Kong. The tusks were seized at the time after being discovered in bags marked as red beans. In addition, Dubai Customs managed to block bids to smuggle 253 tonnes of red sandalwoods in 13 successive seizures.”
Al Abdooli stated that Dubai Customs has achieved the highest rate in exchanging information and news at the Middle East level in 2012 - for third consecutive year- which resulted in several seizures worldwide. This achievement is a perfect embodiment of Dubai Customs’ keenness on strengthening regional and international cooperation in combating different forms of crimes, including wildlife crimes.