Crime against nature: UN agency puts environmental laws under scrutiny

“Stronger laws can help deter potential and repeat offenders, and by extension range of investigative tools and resources for law enforcement to prevent environmental crimes”.UNODC), report presentation.

Premiering in Vienna, ‘Landscapes of Criminalization’ is Part One of the first season Global analysis of environmental crimes report. UNODC looks at how all 193 UN Member States define crimes against nature and the penalties they set for violating environmental laws.

Serious violation

The study covers nine areas of nature-related violations – deforestation and logging, noise pollution, fishing, waste management, wildlife protection and air, soil and waste – shows that no less than 85% of UN member states criminalize criminal acts. against wild animals.

At least 45% of countries impose penalties of four years or more in prison for certain environmental crimes, classifying them as “serious” crimes under U.S. Law.Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC)a widely recognized standard.

“Our review shows progress globally in promoting environmental protection laws,” said Angela Me. However, she noted that legislation and enforcement remain uneven, creating “opportunities for criminal groups to exploit gaps in the response”.

Wildlife and waste are the areas where most countries (164 and 160 respectively) include at least one related criminal offense in their national laws. In contrast, land and noise pollution (99 and 97 respectively) are the areas in which the fewest countries have criminal regulations.

Regional variations

The level of criminalization and punishment varies by country and region. For example, in Oceania, 43% of countries consider illegal fishing a serious crime (leading to imprisonment of 4 years or more), while in Europe, only 2% of countries This act is considered a serious crime. Meanwhile, 12 out of 18 countries in East Africa consider wildlife crime a serious crime.

A man fishes on the banks of the Mithi River in western India, which has become a dumping ground for oil sludge and toxic chemicals.

A man fishes on the banks of the Mithi River in western India, which has become a dumping ground for oil sludge and toxic chemicals.

Africa and Asia have the highest average percentages among Member States with penalties that meet the definition of a serious crime, suggesting the law is not necessarily weak but lacks enforcement.

Wildlife crime

Among the nine regions surveyed, offenses against wildlife are commonly covered by criminal law, with 164 Member States maintaining such provisions.

The national laws of many countries even exceed the requirements of CITES, the international convention that regulates cross-border trade in endangered species.

Globally, penalties for wildlife crimes can range from a few days to life imprisonment, while fines can range from a few US dollars to three million USD.

Besides wildlife, waste-related crimes are highly criminalized, with 160 countries considering improper waste disposal a crime and including at least one related criminal offense in their laws.

In contrast, land and noise pollution enjoy the least protection, with only 99 and 97 countries, respectively, considering these violations serious.

Legal gap

The report highlights differences in how the law applies to individuals and businesses, with businesses often avoiding fines, while individuals can face prison sentences.

The authors suggest that countries could improve their laws to allow for the confiscation of vehicles used to commit environmental crimes or the proceeds from these crimes. The current lack of such regulations often results in the prosecution of small violators rather than large economic actors committing environmental crimes.

According to UNODC experts, there are several areas that need improvement in environmental laws and penalties. Member states could consider increasing penalties and expanding the use of international cooperation instruments such as extradition or mutual legal assistance.

They said there is also a need for more data collection on these crimes, better law enforcement and more research into the penalties imposed and their effectiveness. That information will help understand what level of criminalization is most effective in preventing environmental penalties. crime.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *