Sunday, February 10, 2013

Malaysian Man Receives Reduced Sentence for Possession of Wildlife Products

Tiger skins possessed by Mohd Nor Shahrizam Nasir

It has been recently reported that a Malaysian court has delivered a reduced sentence to a 29-year-old man named Mohd Nor Shahrizam Nasir. Nasir, who has been found guilty on two counts of illegal possession of wildlife products, has been sentenced sixty months. However, because the punishment is viewed as circumstantial, his adequate jail term is only two years. The wildlife trade monitoring network, TRAFFIC, has expressed its concern towards the mild sentencing and is especially worried that the period of sentence challenges existent laws. According to Dr. William Schaedla, regional director of TRAFFIC's Southeast Asia operations, the sentence is "shocking and disappointing." According to the existent wildlife laws, any individual found guilty of  possessing wildlife parts faces a commanding fine of not less than RM100,000 and not more than RM500,000. In addition, the individual faces a jail term not surpassing five years. There has been no fine imposed on Nasir. As of now, his sentence has been awaiting an appeal and he can leave on bail for RM80,000.

I'm extremely disappointed and appalled by the way the Malaysian judicial system exercises its laws against wildlife smugglers and other criminals notorious for pillaging and plundering the world's endangered wildlife. In spite of the efforts conducted by TRAFFIC to bring these remorseless and sadistic individuals to justice, the judicial system has always been very lenient towards their sentencing. For example, in September 2011, a convicted wildlife smuggler named Anson Wong was found guilty of smuggling 95 boa constrictors, one mata mata turtle, and two rhinoceros vipers from Penang to Jakarta. In response, the Sepang Magistrate's Court sentenced the wildlife smuggler to six months in jail and fined him RM190,000. The fine was then put aside on appeal to the High Court, but his sentence rose to five years. Unfortunately, a Court of Appeal cut that sentence to seventeen-and-a-half months last year. This meant that Wong had already served his sentence from September 7, 2010. The Malaysian judicial system needs to wake up and realize just how ominous the threat of poaching and wildlife trade much like trafficking of drugs, humans, and weapons. The syndicates that operate the trade have even gained notoriety for funding rebel groups and militias in Africa in carrying out their bloodthirsty civil wars against innocent civilians. Members who are part of this illicit global trade system should be given stiff prison sentences varying from five years to life in prison.

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