PBI-Honduras notes proposed ecocide law could support threatened land and territorial rights defenders

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On July 20, the Peace Brigades International-Honduras Project tweeted an article from El Pais about the process to have ecocide recognized as a crime.

El Pais reports that an international group of 12 jurists is working on drafting language on the crime of ecocide that could be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) which is governed by the Rome Statute.

The draft law defines ecocide as “unlawful or wanton acts committed with knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of severe and widespread or long-term damage to the environment being caused by those acts.”

The full 165-word definition can be read here.

Earlier this month, the CBC reported: “If the ICC’s member states adopt the law, it would be the fifth crime under the court’s purview, alongside war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and the crime of aggression.”

That article adds: “The ICC is made up of 123 member states, including Canada. Two-thirds of those countries would have to ratify the amendment to add the crime of ecocide.”

NBC News further notes: “Lawmakers from close U.S. allies like France, Belgium, Finland, Spain, Canada, Luxemburg and the European Union have voiced their support for making ecocide a crime.”

“The Netherlands-based Stop Ecocide Foundation, along with a coalition of environmentalists, lawyers and human rights advocates, has been pushing since 2017 to make ecocide a crime prosecuted by the International Criminal Court.”

That article adds: “If the campaign to criminalize ecocide succeeds, the international court would be able to hold accountable those most responsible for major ecological harms, including business and government leaders.”

PBI-Honduras comments: “In this context, the role of defenders of land, territory and the environment is especially relevant and that they can exercise their advocacy work in safe conditions.”

Last year, Global Witness noted that 14 land and environmental defenders were killed in Honduras in 2019.

Their report highlighted: “In Honduras killings rose from 4 in 2018 to 14 last year, making it the most dangerous country per capita for land and environmental defenders in 2019. It is the country with the greatest percentage increase in lethal attacks against activists.”

PBI-Honduras has previously affirmed: “The work of land and territory defenders must be recognized, protected and supported.”

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