Geneva, 4 April 2003
Secretary-Generalís Certificate of Commendation
1. In Notification to the Parties No. 2002/014 of 6 March 2002, the Secretariat advised the Parties of the introduction of certificates of commendation that would be issued, at the Secretary-Generalís discretion, to recognize exemplary enforcement actions.
2. The first such certificate was awarded by the Secretary-General on 5 March 2003 to the Crew of Hong Kong Customs Launch No. 9 and the CITES Management Authority of Hong Kong S.A.R., China. It recognizes the actions on 13 October 2002 near Lamma Island, Hong Kong, when the crew of Customs Launch No. 9 intercepted a fishing vessel, conducted an intensive and lengthy search and discovered a carefully concealed compartment near the vesselís engine room. When the Customs personnel were able to overcome measures obstructing access to the compartment, it was found to contain 81 pieces of elephant tusk, totalling 506 kg in weight. Since the ivory was being smuggled in violation of the Convention, it was seized and the vessel and crew were detained. With the assistance of the CITES Management Authority of Hong Kong, a prosecution was conducted. The master of the fishing vessel was subsequently sentenced to 16 months imprisonment and the ivory was forfeited.
3. The crew of Customs Launch No. 9 at the time of the enforcement action were:
Senior Inspector Tam Wai-man (Launch commander) (Officer-in-charge)
Chief Customs Officer Chan Chun-wah (Deputy Launch Commander)
Senior Customs Officer Chan Wai-lok (Coxswain)
Senior Customs Officer (Atg) Lee To-shing (search team)
Customs Officer Law Po-ping (search team)
Customs Officer Yeung Kwok-lun (search team)
Customs Officer Chan Hiu-ching (arresting officer)
Customs Officer Fong Tse-leung (exhibit officer).
4. The Secretary-General believes that this incident demonstrated initiative and determination on the part of the Customs officers, combined with excellent cooperation with staff of the Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (CITES Management Authority), leading to a successful prosecution that should act as a deterrent to those who consider trading illegally in specimens of CITES-listed species.
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