Protecting the environment through criminal prosecution

Prosecuting polluters
Fining polluters
Shutting down polluting industries
Punishing offences against the environment
Possible modalities for international cooperation include the development of policy guidelines for governments reviewing their legislation, the elaboration of manuals dealing with environmental crime, improved technical standards in areas such as sampling and examination methods for determining levels of pollution, as well as the provision of advisory services on investigation and law enforcement.
There are already a number of specific international conventions relevant to environmental crime.

In January 2003, the European Council of Ministers adopted a framework decision imposing on the Member States the obligation to provide for criminal sanctions in case of green crime. This Decision foresees that each member state should introduce the notion of environmental crime into its national law, i.e certain conducts damaging the environment should be defined as criminal when committed intentionally or as a result of negligence.

India's Supreme Court ordered the closure of about 190 industrial plants in September, 1994. The factories failed to comply with a state directive to stop releasing untreated effluent into the Ganges river and to install effluent treatment plants. One month prior to this, India's High Court had ordered 212 industrial plants in the city of Agra to close.

In October 1994, in Colombia, the national environmental prosecutor ordered 29 companies in Cartagena to be fined or closed. The firms had neither licences for water use nor waste disposal. In the same month, a large chemical company was shut down by environmental officials in Brazil. The firm had received six warnings and seven fines for environmental degradation over 13 years, but had not taken adequate steps to ensure safe disposal of its chemical wastes.

In 1998 it was reported that prosecution of environmental crimes in the USA was down sharply compared with former administrations.

There should be a global, harmonized approach to the use of criminal law in environmental protection, and specific programmes of action should be developed.
Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean EnergyGOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and ProductionGOAL 15: Life on LandGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions