Wildlife Whistleblowing

Earlier this month, Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto founding partner Stephen M. Kohn was featured as a panelist at the fourth annual Freeland Film Festival. Kohn appeared on the panel “Making Wildlife Traffickers Pay.” Kohn’s participation in the panel can be viewed above.

Kohn discussed the successes of U.S. whistleblower reward laws and how these laws, such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, could be applied to help police wildlife trafficking, deforestation, illegal fishing, and other environmental crimes.

Kohn also hinted at the reintroduction of a wildlife whistleblower reward bill: “Given the success of these laws, we now have bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress for introducing a specific new law for wildlife trafficking, covering all trafficking, illegal lumber, IUU fishing, the Lacey Act. This law mandates transnational cooperation and cooperation with NGOs. And this law requires that all the money acquired in the sanctions be reinvested with NGOs to fight wildlife trafficking and promote conversation.

“In other words, it’s the perfect cycle of accountability,” Kohn continued. “The whistleblower detects the crime, they work with government to get the best possible prosecution, they hold the wrongdoer accountable, the wrongdoer pays fines and penalties, and the fines and penalties are reinvested in conservation.”

Kohn is a leading expert on wildlife whistleblowing. His breakthrough 2016 article “Monetary Rewards for Wildlife Whistleblowers: A Game-Changer in Wildlife Trafficking Detection and Deterrence” outlined the ways in which properly implemented whistleblower reward laws could greatly aid in the policing of wildlife trafficking.

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