Statement by the Secretary-General of
CITES on concerns expressed about confiscated orangutans
Geneva, 20 May 2010
The Secretariat has recently received a number of emails
urging the return to Indonesia of 11 orangutans confiscated
by the CITES Management Authority of Thailand in February 2009.
In keeping with its responsibilities to promote enforcement
of the Convention and to assess and communicate relevant information,
the Secretariat contacted the Thai Management Authority about
these messages. The Thai Management Authority responded immediately,
stating that the animals had been well cared for since their
confiscation and that DNA analysis showed they were Bornean
orangutans. It advised the Secretariat that the Thai and Indonesian
authorities had been consulting about the possible return of
the animals - as both countries had arranged for the return
of a number of orangutans three years ago. The Thai Management
Authority further stated that it had written officially to
the CITES Management Authority of Indonesia earlier this month
to find out whether it would like the animals to be returned
at its expense – as provided under Article VIII of the
The Secretariat is also in contact with the Indonesian Management
Authority about this matter.
As provided by the Convention, the determination of the
most suitable long-term home for confiscated animals rests
with the State of confiscation, following consultation with
the State of export. The State of confiscation may consult
with the Secretariat, whenever it considers this desirable,
but the CITES Secretariat has no power to decide the
final destination of confiscated animals.
The Thai Management Authority has advised that its investigation
into the events leading up to the confiscation of the 11 orangutans
is ongoing. The role of the Secretariat in relation
to domestic law enforcement is supportive in nature and is
focused on exchanging information about alleged violations,
strengthening law enforcement capacity and facilitating coordinated
action by interested States. In this context, the Secretariat
offers and provides technical back-up to assist States in their
investigation and pursuit of individuals or organizations which
are suspected of having violated the Convention and relevant
The emails sent to the Secretariat also raise issues of
compliance with the Convention. The Secretariat supports other
CITES bodies in carrying out their functions concerning compliance.
It advises and assists Parties in complying with their CITES
obligations and makes recommendations for achieving compliance.
Compliance measures under the Convention, however, can only
be taken by the Conference of the Parties or its Standing Committee.