By The Journal
Harsher penalties for wildlife trade offences, such as trafficking
in rare animal skins and horns, are being pushed up the agenda in
a Government amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill.
Elliot Morley said the Government is taking urgent action following
overwhelming support for increases in penalties
outlined in the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement)
Regulations 1997 (COTES) consultation paper which was issued in
new penalties will apply to certain offences, including trading
in the highly lucrative "shatoosh" shawls, made from fine
hair of slaughtered Tibetan antelope, and illegal in this country.
shawls can retail for up to £15,000, while black market
rhino horn can fetch up to £30,000 per kilo.
traditionally used for medical properties in East Asia and across
the world including the UK, such as tigers, bears,
and some plants, will also be subject to the controls.
include increasing the penalty for people found guilty of illegally
trading in endangered species from two to five years
imprisonment, and making those offences arrestable.
I firmly believe that we must address the illegal trade in endangered
species as a matter of urgency," said Mr Morley yesterday.
Only then can we ensure that those wildlife criminals who cynically
exploit our world's most endangered species, with no regard for the
consequences of their actions, are properly punished.
It is my belief that a five-year prison sentence will also act as
a significant deterrent."
Offences which attract a five-year
prison sentence are automatically arrestable in England, Wales
and Northern Ireland.
The new clause
will introduce similar provisions in Scotland.
announcement will be made later about the other issues which have
been covered by the COTES review.