No crime of ecocide, but an offense to punish environmental damage

The citizens’ convention for the climate had voted for the creation of a crime of ecocide, the government decided to make it only an offense. A “Ecocide offense” aimed at preventing and punishing serious damage to the environment will be created, announced Sunday, November 22, the Minister of Ecological Transition, Barbara Pompili, and the Keeper of the Seals, Eric Dupond-Moretti.

In a joint interview with Sunday newspaper, M. Dupond-Moretti and Mme Pompili detail this new offense, weakening the wishes of the 150 citizens of the climate convention. “The citizen enthusiasm which has been expressed must be followed by a legal translation into the penal code”, justifies the Keeper of the Seals, arguing a problem of constitutionality with regard to the word « crime ».

“We are going to create a general pollution offense. The penalties will be modulated according to the intention of the author. The penalties incurred range from three years ‘imprisonment to ten years’ imprisonment depending on whether there is an offense of recklessness, a manifestly willful breach of an obligation and the heaviest, an offense intentional “, reports Eric Dupond-Moretti.

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Up to 4.5 million euros fine

The fines, which are intended to be dissuasive, will range from 375,000 to 4.5 million euros. “In the past you polluted, you won, tomorrow you will pollute, you will pay up to ten times the profit you would have made if you had thrown your waste into the river”, ensures the keeper of the seals.

A second offense of “Endangering the environment” should also see the light of day. Unlike the first, the sanctions can be applied even when the pollution has not yet taken place, said the Ministry of Ecological Transition. “The text aims to penalize the deliberate endangerment of the environment by deliberate violations of an obligation”, underlines M. Dupond-Moretti in The JDD. The penalty is one year in prison and a 100,000 euros fine.

“It is in fact the translation, in precise legal terms, of what the historical promoters of the recognition of ecocide were asking for”, assure Mme Pompili. The two ministers will meet virtually on Monday with representatives of the 150 citizens of the climate convention.

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At the same time as these announcements, the Minister of Justice clarified the outlines, drawn by his predecessor Nicole Belloubet, of the reorganization of justice, including the creation of specialized environmental courts, to deal with these new crimes. “In each court of appeal, there will be a specialized court competent both in civil matters, for compensation for damage for example, and in criminal matters”, he assures.

An “infinitely less ambitious” proposal

“The proposal which will be presented to the deputies is infinitely less ambitious than that carried by the citizens’ convention and does not correspond to the international definitions of ecocide”, lamented the director and environmental activist Cyril Dion on Twitter, which however welcomes “An improvement of the law”.

Same tone for the ecologist MEP Marie Toussaint, co-founder of the association Notre affaires à tous. “The government announces the recognition of the ecocide, but the description of the measures to come, although welcome, does not correspond to the condemnation of this serious crime against nature! “, did she react on the same network.

The Citizen’s Climate Convention was established in October 2019, at the initiative of the Head of State. It brought together 150 citizens drawn by lot with the aim of proposing measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. She offered 149 to Emmanuel Macron, who undertook to take back 146.

The World with AFP

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