The International Criminal Court, which is also known as the ICC declared that misuse of land, land grabs, and environmental destruction would be considered crimes against humanity. The announcement was made this week.
This is an important change in the strategy of the ICC because since 1989 this organization investigated human rights offenses and war crimes. This means that the ICC is taking on more responsibility and is expanding the list of people that can be prosecuted by the law.
“Company bosses and politicians complicit in violently seizing land, razing tropical forests, or poisoning water sources could soon find themselves standing trial in The Hague alongside war criminals and dictators,” declared Gillian Caldwell, Global Witness Executive Director.
2015 is considered to be one of the deadliest years in the history of the land grab practice, more than three people being killed in conflicts for territory every week.
Some people say that the ICC doesn’t have the ability to monitor this issue properly, and they think that this announcement is more of a hands-off approach.
Even before this announcement was made, the ICC began to focus on the environmental destruction matter. For instance, in August Ahmad al- Fahdi al-Mahdi became the first man who was charged with cultural destruction as a war crime by the ICC. The cultural destruction became a common strategy in the last ten years.
China was also accused of violating the Convention on the Law of the Sea for protecting ecosystems that are fragile. This violation was made once the coral reefs were damaged due to the built of artificial islands.
The new policy will be tested when the ICC prosecutor decides if the case filed against Cambodia is worth a try. Cambodia is accused of illegally grabbing the land of people and forcing them to leave their homes. Since 2002 350,000 people were forced out of their homes in Cambodia.
The systemic crimes committed under the guise of ‘development’ are no less damaging to victims than many wartime atrocities. The ICC Prosecutor has sent a clear message that such offenses may amount to crimes against humanity and can no longer be tolerated.”
Do you think that this policy is going to make a difference in the environmental destruction cases?
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