The government will create an “ecocide offense” to punish environmental damage

An “ecocide offense” aimed at sanctioning serious damage to the environment, derived from a proposal from the Citizen’s Climate Convention, will be created, but various voices in the ecological movement regret that the “crime of ecocide “was not selected.

In a joint interview with the JDD, Minister of Justice Eric Dupont-Moretti and Minister of Ecological Transition Barbara Pompili detail this new “offense”, while the 150 citizens of the Convention had wanted a much stronger definition of “crime” .

“The citizen enthusiasm that has been expressed must be followed by a legal translation in the penal code”, justifies the Minister of Justice, 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 perpetrator. The penalties incurred range from three years to ten years imprisonment depending on whether there is an offense of ‘recklessness, a manifestly deliberate violation of an obligation and the heaviest, an intentional breach, “reports Eric Dupont-Moretti.

The fines 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”, assures the Keeper of the Seals.

A second offense of “endangering the environment” should also emerge. The sanctions may apply even when the pollution has not yet occurred, the Ministry of Ecological Transition told AFP.

“The text aims to penalize the deliberate endangerment of the environment by deliberate violations of an obligation”, underlines Mr. Dupond-Moretti. The penalty is one year in prison and a 100,000 euros fine.

– “Nice exercise in communication” –

The two ministers will meet virtually Monday with representatives of the 150 citizens of the Climate Convention, as accusations of unraveling their proposal have multiplied in recent weeks.

The association “Notre Affaire à tous” specifically regretted this announcement “with a bang” by the press before the meeting, seeing it as a “good exercise in communication to which the government is used”.

The lawyer Valérie Cabanes, its honorary president, says she is “very disappointed”: “this crime against the safety of the planet (…) has been relegated to the rank of environmental crime. Use the term ecocide while emptying it of its substance is a bad trick done to the citizens “.

According to the NGO, “the crime of ecocide as well as the planetary limits (thresholds that humanity must not exceed to live in a safe ecosystem, Editor’s note) are definitely buried for the benefit of a general offense of water damage , to soils and air which seemed already under discussion within the government “.

“We will be extremely vigilant. The concept of ecocide must not be emptied of its content if we want it to come to sanction the crimes today committed with complete impunity”, commented the ecologist MEP Marie Toussaint, co-founder of “Notre affaires à tous”.

“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 environmental activist Cyril Dion on Twitter. The director who was also one of the guarantors of the CCC, however, welcomes “an improvement in the law”.

The 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.

Regarding ecocide, he had undertaken to carry “this fight on behalf of France in multilateral bodies”. But on the French level, he noted that the proposal still had to be worked on to respect the fundamental principles of French law.

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