[JURIST] The International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] will work to prosecute environmental crimes, according to a policy paper [text, PDF] published [press release] Thursday detailing how the court will select and prioritize cases. The court made the paper available to the public in order to increase “transparency” but clarified that the paper is an “internal document” that gives rise to no “legal rights” and is “subject to revision” as experience mandates. The court noted that it will begin prosecuting “illegal exploitation of natural resources, arms trafficking, human trafficking, terrorism, financial crimes, land grabbing or the destruction of the environment…,” which some have noted as a marked shift [AP report] from their primary focus on crimes committed during armed conflict.
Environmental destruction has been an issue plaguing much of the world, including the US. Last week environmentalists sued [JURIST report] the US Environmental Protection Agency regarding federal water quality standards. In March Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan was served with a class action lawsuit [JURIST report] over the water contamination in Flint, Michigan. In February BP supervisors were found not guilty [JURIST report] of a Clean Water Act violation after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Also in February the Supreme Court blocked [JURIST report] the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which meant to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
In January, a Hungarian court acquitted [JURIST report] 15 employees of the Mal Corp for their role in the toxic red sludge spill that killed 10 people in 2010 after a reservoir burst. Also in January, Brazil’s Federal Police accused seven people and three companies of environmental crimes [JURIST report] in its probe into the major Fundão dam collapse that occurred on November 5.