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European Parliament hears proposals for European and International environmental criminal courts

The European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) committee has heard proposals to develop a European Environmental Criminal Court (EECC) and an International Environmental Criminal Court (IECC).

The plan was put forward by the International Academy of Environmental Sciences (IAES), based in Venice, which believes that it is necessary to develop “juridic-scientific knowledge of preventative and repressive measures within a system of justice that prescribes effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions”.  

It says that a rise in the number of environmental crimes that go unpunished in the EU is a result of “the absence of harmonised criminal sanctions” within member states.

It believes that by creating the EECC, it would better guarantee the juridical control of the “use and/or abuse of environmental resources” and ensure a coherent European environmental criminal justice system. It would stress the importance of the environment across the EU and would “be in accordance with the strong demand of millions of EU citizens (facing unpunished pollution-related problems) for justice in every case of environmental pollution”.

The court would therefore be in accordance with the criminal reform directive on the protection of the environment through criminal law, which guarantees a harmonised criminal justice system to preserve the environment but calls for more action to dissuade harmful activities.

Proposals for the IECC would be for it to work alongside the existing International Criminal Court, which looks at the most serious crimes, while being a twin court of the EECC.

The IAES slso considers introducing “ a new criminal offence” which refers to environmental disasters that are so heinous they could qualify as a crime against humanity, which would then be the responsibility of the IECC. An example of the type of case the IECC would handle is the Bophal disaster, which was a poisonous gas leak in India in 1984. It killed 30,000 people and the person most responsible is still at large.

When MRW contacted the IAES on this subject there was no response.

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