On Wednesday, August 19, the sixth session of the Webinar Cycle of Committees, Commissions and Working Groups of the OLACEFS was held.
With the active participation of more than 800 people, the session entitled The role of Supreme Audit Institutions in the prevention and mitigation of the effects of corruption linked to the illicit trafficking of wildlife was held, led by the Working Group Specialized in Transnational Corruption (GTCT), which reflected on the role that SAIs must play in controlling corruption related to the illicit trafficking of wildlife species, analyzing the alternatives of collaboration within the framework of the existing institutional framework.
Given the supranational nature of the crime, it is important to promote an inter-institutional effort that, among other agencies, involves Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) to verify compliance with existing controls in the fight against corruption related to trafficking. In this crime, corruption problems such as fraud, falsification of permits and certificates, infidelity in the custody of documents, bribery, abuse in the exercise of the operation, among others, are evidenced. These problems can be deepened by the lack of knowledge that SAI officials may have about the operation of this environmental crime, which does not allow them to focus on audits to effectively identify irregularities in the control of species trafficking.
María de los Ángeles Barrionuevo, a consultant within the framework of the GTGT and GIZ cooperation, began her presentation by stating that corruption is a structural problem, a business where you earn a lot and with little risk and that, in the particular case of wildlife trafficking, generates negative consequences both at the level of biodiversity, as well as at an economic and social level since this generates a negative impact on the economy of rural families and on people’s health due to the possible transmission of diseases. She also pointed out that this crime is linked to other organized crimes, such as money laundering, drug trafficking and human trafficking.
Regarding the role of SAIs in their fight against corruption linked to illegal wildlife trafficking, María de los Ángeles highlighted the importance of environmental audits where she points out that it is important to consider the exchange of information and experiences between SAIs, specialized teams of environmental auditors, and development of control procedures. In this context, the panelist also highlighted the importance of publicity of guidelines and guides, in order to give visibility to these audits.
Stephanie Arellano, Officer of the Biodiversity Management Program at the IUCN Regional Office for South America, preceded the consultant and highlighted the importance of identifying gaps that can facilitate illicit trafficking, including legal and judicial gaps, lack of monitoring and control mechanisms, limited access to information for decision-making, and highlighted the need for the involvement of society and different actors and sectors.
In this framework, Stephanie pointed out that there is a need for clarity among all the actors involved in this illegal chain that makes up the illicit trafficking market, from poachers, smugglers, and crime syndicates, to manufacturers and consumers, a chain that links suppliers with demand.
Alejandro Iza, Director of the Environmental Law Center of the same institution as Stephanie, the IUCN, continued to refer to the magnitude of this problem and the ineffective responses that usually exist due to the lack of evidence and studies of seized species, such as the lack of clarity of traffic routes. In his opinion, there is an urgent need to have laws that are stricter and to coordinate both national and international cooperation with neighboring countries between the different agencies.
Subsequently, Alejandro highlighted the strengthening of capacities as the key to progress in a sustainable way in the search for solutions to a complex and multifaceted problem. In this sense, he pointed out that the legal and judicial systems in matters of crimes against wildlife should be strengthened and, likewise, supply inputs and technical resources to decision makers, judges, prosecutors, legislators and also students and academics.
The last panelist of this session, Lorenzo Vallejos, was the Focal Point in Latin America and the Caribbean for UNODC’s Global Program to Combat Wildlife and Forest Crime. It begins by mentioning the role of UNODC and highlighting the publication of a document entitled “Tools for the analysis of crimes against wildlife and forests,” which considers the identification of patterns of crime, analysis of judicial responses, understanding the links and participation of actors, and also the implementation of measures to address and prevent this type of crime.
Through various projects led by the UNODC, or in which it has contributed, the panelist points out that it is of utmost importance to empower public institutions together, generating coordinated work between different actors that can contribute to solving the problem.
The presentations shared by the exhibitors, in addition to the webinar video, are available below:
For more information about the webinars, as well as the actions carried out by the SAIs, and the COVID-19 Blog, visit the page: