Latin America / Environmental crimes

Harmonisation of environmental criminal law

13 May 2021
minería ilegal

EL PAcCTO and FOPREL have presented a legislative technical report on the harmonised classification of environmental crimes. Various parliamentarians from Central America and Caribbean countries participated in the meeting, as well as guests including European Union representatives.

One of the presentation’s objectives was to find strategies, agreements and commitments between the legislative powers which are part of FOPREL to harmonise laws on environmental crimes such as interfering with protected flora and fauna, causing forest fires, illegal mining, and waste trafficking, among other crimes that affect the ecosystem and humans in particular.

Experts from Europe and Latin America

The experts in charge of carrying out the study are Javier Rufino, Environmental Prosecutor at the Seville Prosecutor’s Office, Vasco Manuel De Sousa Santos, criminal analyst at SEPNA, part of the Republican National Guard of Portugal, and the Nicaraguan consultant and lawyer Marianela Rocha.

All three emphasised that people must be protected from environmental risks, considering that Latin America is very vulnerable due to its immense natural wealth. The experts presented data on the pollution of the natural environment, which seriously affects the population and ecosystems. They also explained that environmental crimes are in part carried out by international industries and companies, without any legislation to prevent this, and that a harmonised regulatory framework between countries must urgently be sought to enable systematic punishment to be administered for those responsible for the destruction of the environment.

The proposal prepared by experts in the field presents solutions to enable the prosecution of crimes in the same way in all the countries attached to FOPREL. This would be achieved through standards that help the continent’s sustainable development and that simplify the effective application of dissuasive penalties in different countries. Similarly, the experts expressed the need for consensus among the affected countries in order to standardise legislation, modify environmental criminal regulations and facilitate the specialisation of prosecutors, judges and police in the general prevention of crimes in this area.

Sustainable decisions

One of the recommendations presented was to implement all kinds of decisions around the idea of a sustainable economy in line with the Green Deal, so that measures can be developed that ensure adequate living conditions for populations that depend directly on the ecosystem.

At the end of the meeting, all the participants reflected the will to harmonise laws against environmental crimes and jointly fight against organised transnational crime.

EL PAcCTO commitment

Since 2017, EL PAcCTO has been working on the comprehensive protection of nature through multiple activities, particularly with the promotion of specialised networks made up of police officers such as the Jaguar Network, the network of prosecutors for the Protection of Nature (from AIAMP), and specialised teams and specific studies that contribute to the fight against environmental crimes.

The Programme remains at the disposal of any country that requests the implementation of the proposals presented in the legislative technical report. We will accompany countries that request the implementation of regulations and comprehensive protection systems for the environment through the strengthening and specialisation of institutions, creating specific and adapted models for each country that needs regulatory development.

Additionally, other areas of work and interest were identified by the inter-parliamentary commissions of FOPREL, such as international legal cooperation and the application of alternatives to deprivation of liberty, which, together with effective prison intelligence measures, will undoubtedly make for a more effective fight against transnational organised crime.