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History is made with severe sentence for illegal slow loris traders in Indonesia.

In a historical ruling, a Panel of Judges at Lubuk Basung District Court in West Sumatra has sentenced two slow loris traders to three and a half years’ imprisonment. Both perpetrators, with initials JE and HN, were also required to pay a fine of one hundred million Rupiah (USD 7260) or spend an additional six months in prison.

The Judge’s sentence was higher than that of the Public Prosecutor who demanded only a three-year sentence for the perpetrators. In his verdict, the Judge said that the defendants were found guilty of a criminal act of "intentionally saving, collecting, pet keeping and trading of live protected wildlife". JE and HN were charged under article 40 paragraph 2, Article 21 Paragraph 2 of Law (Undang-undang) No. 5 of 1990 on Conservation of Natural Resources and Ecosystem.

The two men were arrested on 20-21 September 2017, in Agam District, West Sumatra by the Quick Reaction Forest Police Unit (SPORC) of the Law Enforcement Department of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry Sumatra Region with evidence of nine individual Sumatran slow lorises (Nycticebus coucang) kept in cages. The nine confiscated slow lorises were still wild and had not yet had their teeth cut out, so were subsequently released at Bung Hatta Forest Park, Padang, West Sumatra on 3 October 2017.

We have welcomed the sentence by the Indonesian Court Council. The ruling is the highest sentence on criminal acts for slow loris traders in the past five years in Indonesia.

"History has been made in terms of law enforcement efforts against slow loris traders in Indonesia,” said Tantyo Bangun, Chairperson of IAR Indonesia. “Previously, the perpetrators were only sentenced to 3-12 months in prison, even though some of them were suppliers and collectors arrested with evidence of dozens of slow lorises."

Tantyo expressed his appreciation for the Indonesian law enforcement officers of the Law Enforcement Department of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry Sumatra Region, West Sumatra High Court and Lubuk Basung District Court who are making great efforts in handling cases of wildlife crime, particularly slow lorises.

"We are grateful for the collaboration of law enforcement agencies for implementing the mandate of Law No. 5 of 1990 on the Conservation of Natural Resources and Ecosystems, Ministerial Regulation of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry No. 26 of 2017 on the Handling of Evidence of Environmental Crime and Forestry, as well as the Attorney General Circular on Case Handling and Settlement related to wildlife crime, so that confiscated wildlife can be returned to its natural habitat as swiftly as possible," said Tantyo.

Furthermore, Tantyo also welcomed the decision of law enforcement officers who have now classified criminal acts against wildlife as ‘extraordinary crime’. This indicates that there has been a significant increase in the number of cases of wildlife crime.

He added, "In addition, with the implementation of Reporting of Criminal Litigation Plan on Criminal Acts of Natural Resources Cross Country by the High Prosecutor of West Sumatra to the Attorney General, efforts in handling cases of crimes against wildlife will be maximal."

Karmele L Sanchez, our Programme Director in Indonesia, hoped the heavy sentence handed down to the loris traders would send a message that wildlife crimes are serious and can be met with the maximum penalty.

According to Karmele, the verdict demonstrates the importance of the effect of severe penalties as a deterrent to wildlife crime. "We also hope that in future this will become an example and be applied in other regions where criminal cases against protected wildlife are being handled," she said.

She added: “In addition, information in the media about the confiscation, law enforcement, process and verdicts of the judiciary, helps to increases public awareness about the protection and conservation of protected animals in Indonesia."