Stricter sanctions for illegal trafficking in protected fauna and flora

Bern, 18.09.2020 - At its meeting on 18.09.2020, the Federal Council adopted the dispatch on the amend-ment of the Federal Act on Trade in Protected Species of Animals and Plants (BGCITES). The amendment is intended to strengthen criminal sanctions, in particular in serious cases of illicit trafficking. The aim is to ensure more effective protection of endangered species of animals and plants.

BGCITES implements the convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES Convention). In particular, it contains regulations on the import, transit and export of endangered animals and plants. Serious cases of illegal trafficking of internationally protected animals and plants are to be criminalised in future. Such a crime is deemed to exist if the perpetrator is acting on a commercial basis, as part of a gang, or if a large number of protected specimens are affected. In addition, the crime of violating BGCITES will now be treated as an offence instead of a violation as in the past.

Obligation to  provide information on sales and import bans
There is also a new obligation to provide information for persons selling specimens of protected species: they may no longer remain anonymous and must provide information on the specimens offered. The proposed amendments also provide for the possibility of temporary import bans. This will apply to animal and plant species that can be confused with CITES specimens, are nationally protected in another country and are known to be endangered. This is to prevent such specimens from another country from entering international trade via Switzerland.

Switzerland has been a contractual state since 1975
These increases in severity are a response to the Barazzone motion (15.3958) "Illegal trade in endangered species. Stricter criminal sanctions in Switzerland". Switzerland has been a party to the CITES Convention since 1975. This contains three appendices regarding animals and plants of protected species that are traded internationally. A distinction is made between species threatened with extinction (Appendix I), endangered species (Appendix II) and species protected by individual contracting parties (Appendix III).

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