Cambodia to keep seized ivory, not destroy it

Cambodia to keep seized ivory, not destroy it

A consignment of seized ivory. Hun Sen does not want it to be destroyed. (Supplied photo via Khmer Times)
A consignment of seized ivory. Hun Sen does not want it to be destroyed. (Supplied photo via Khmer Times)

PHNOM PENH - Prime Minister Hun Sen announced on Friday that Cambodia will keep seized ivory, rhinoceros horns and other confiscated goods to show in exhibitions. Cambodia will not burn or destroy the items, he said.

Speaking at a closing ceremony for the Interior Ministry’s annual meeting on Friday, the prime minister agreed to an Environment Ministry request to not destroy all the seized ivory, rhinoceros horns and other animal parts and instead keep them to be exhibited, according to a report in Khmer Times.

Mr Hun Sen said: “Our America counterparts asked us to destroy it, but it is not the duty of America in Cambodia. America has no rights here. Cambodia will keep it [ivory] for an exhibition.”  

He added that some ivory was from South Africa, a region in Africa where elephants are under threat. If the ivory was destroyed, all the evidence would also be destroyed, he said. 

“America has no right to order Cambodia’s administration to do anything and I agreed to keep it for exhibition,” Mr Hun Sen said, adding that the ivory is scarce. If other countries wanted to borrow it from Cambodia for an exhibition, Cambodia would agree, he said.

Under the law, selling, importing or exporting ivory or pangolin scales is strictly prohibited.

In 2014, a total of three tonnes of ivory was seized after being discovered by Sihanoukville customs officials in two containers, mixed with beans.

Last August, more than 600 kilograms of ivory that had been packed in corn and shipped from Africa in 2014 was seized at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port. 

A total of 128 pieces of ivory weighing 613kg were seized after being found surrounded by corn in a container at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port. There were 87 tusks and 41 cut pieces in the unopened container.

Last December, more than one tonne of ivory, pangolin scales and tiger bones were discovered at a dry port in Phnom Penh’s Por Senchey district.

Investigators reported the seizure of 1,361.9 kilograms of ivory, 137.6 kilogrammes of pangolin scales, 82.3kgs of tiger bones and 4.9kgs of elephant tails. 

The goods, which had been exported from Mozambique, were shipped by a Vietnamese company named Cam Transit Import.

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