Climate : and finally the crime of ecocide ! - The Point

This is one of three measures that the 150 citizens of the Convention on climate change wish to see submit to the approval of the French, at the same time that

Climate : and finally the crime of ecocide  ! - The Point

This is one of three measures that the 150 citizens of the Convention on climate change wish to see submit to the approval of the French, at the same time that an amendment of the Constitution to integrate the objectives of preservation of the environment and of biodiversity, and the creation of a Defender of the environment. It bears a heavy symbolic charge : built by analogy to genocide and crimes against humanity, the notion of" ecocide " appears for the first time in 1970, after use in Vietnam by the american army of a defoliant chemical agent orange to destroy the forests that hid the enemy, and whose consequences for the population (cancers, malformations) are still felt today. Nearly 3 200 villages will be affected, or 24% of South Vietnam...

But if the most severe to the environment in times of war are integrated in the international texts, the appellation of" ecocide ", always controversial, will never be adopted, and to this day, the grave harm to the environment in time of peace have never been recognized as a crime by the international law. Only a handful of countries, including Vietnam, has taken this course. France, for 150 citizens drawn at random to propose ways to reduce 40 % of our greenhouse gas emissions, should be a part of it.

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Creation of a "High Authority of the planetary boundaries"

According to the proposal that they have delivered Sunday to the government, " constitutes a crime of ecocide to any action that has caused environmental damage serious participant in the overflow and manifest non-negligible number of planetary boundaries, committed with knowledge of the consequences which would result and which could not be ignored ". The "planetary boundaries" in which they refer to are the thresholds set in nine different areas (climate change, biodiversity, fresh water, chemical pollution...) to regulate the stability of the planet, and that should not be exceeded to ensure that the development is "safe and fair" for humanity. Taken over by the ministry of Ecology, these "planetary boundaries" are, however, subject to serious controversy within the scientific community, the value of the tipping points being particularly complex to fix it... The 150 offer, including the creation of a " High Authority of the planetary boundaries ", " instance scientific supra-ministerial competent and recognised to ensure the application and respect of the biological mechanisms of ecosystems, and their interactions. "(sic.) In any case, the philosophy of the measure is to be asked : the" ecocide " refers to crimes against the environment of such a scale that they put in question the possibility of life on earth.

twice this year, proposals for legislation to introduce the" ecocide " in our criminal law have been rejected in the Senate first, then to the national Assembly. The latest proposal, championed by the socialist group, was planning to punish the crime of" ecocide " a sentence of 20 years imprisonment and 10 million euro fine, or, in the case of a company, 20 % of the annual turnover of the global total of the prior year. The provocation to the commission of the crime of ecocide was punished with the same penalties. A text that had been rejected by the majority, the minister of Justice Nicole Belloubet-pointing of the definitions are too imprecise.

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A proposal inapplicable

" And she was right ", decrypts the lawyer, specialist in environmental law Arnaud Gossement. "Ecocide poses several problems. The first is legal : the planetary boundaries do not exist in law, they do not make consensus. However, it will be necessary to demonstrate that a person was aware in advance that she was going to commit a crime by exceeding these limits, that nobody knows ! Moreover, it is very complex to define a damage to the environment, in the case of diffuse pollution, chemicals, or plastics... The causes are scattered, multifactorial. The proposed wording is too fuzzy, we remain in uncertainty vis-à-vis the offence. And this would probably be rejected by the constitutional Council... "More severe, to the lawyer," to hang a new symbol to the Constitution, which will be unenforceable " does no problem. "The heart of the matter, is that judges are struggling to continue the damage to the environment, even if there are a lot of criminal offences. The trial environment is very long and expensive, requires expertise, withdrawals... It is the means in which justice has need ! "

Given last autumn to the government, a report of the general inspection of justice highlighted a series of blockages annoying procedures and the lack of specialized manpower in the suppression of environmental crimes. "The rate of classification without continuation, and the rate of abandonment of proceedings in the course of procedures are much higher for environmental than for the average of offences ", admitted to mps in January, the prosecutor general at the Court of cassation, François Mollins. "This matter is also very fond of alternatives to imprisonment (reminders of the law, the regularization of the situation, the reparation of damage, mediation), so that the criminal convictions reduced to trickle. "

missed Opportunity

A bill, adopted at first reading just before the containment, provides for the creation of specialized jurisdictions on the environment. "It would have been more effective as the participants of this convention propose to build this text, and the resources allocated," says the lawyer Sébastien Mabile. "Also, it lacks a reflection on the environmental impacts in the field of tort : our largest business, as that of the Erika and Lubrizol, are crimes of non-intentional, and negligence. However, the offense of endangerment of the environment does not exist ! "

Much of the work that the Convention has not addressed. "A missed opportunity," says the lawyer, who questions the " experts that the convention has consulted. It is curious that the process will lead to measures of symbolic, but not operational."

Updated Date: 22 June 2020, 13:33

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