Environmental crimes including illegal land grabbing are a menace globally and taking note of this increasing problem, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has announced that it will hold governments and corporate executives legally responsible for such crimes.
There is a marked difference between judicious use of natural resources and their exploitation and taking note of the unprecedented exploitation of natural resources as well as environmental destruction, The Hague court made explicit references to widening its approach to include land grabbing, which has allowed private corporations, with the help of governments, to take over large areas of foreign land.
Experts and environmental activists have welcomed the decision of the International Court stating that the ICC’s interest and intervention in environmental crimes will not only help put brakes on such crimes, but it will also help in improving lives of hundreds of millions of people and protect critical ecosystems around the world.
The ICC announced its decision after a case filed by a group of Cambodians who alleged that authorities, including the government, military, police and the courts, have been complicit in land grabbing since 2002, which has led to the forced eviction of more than 300,000 people. International legal experts say the court’s widened focus could potentially open up criminal prosecutions for climate change.
The ICC was set up in 2002 by governments with the intention of prosecuting individuals for serious crimes where many developing and unstable countries lack the mechanisms to carry out their own trials. Critics however have said that the ICC lacks teeth because it is pinned on the cooperation of states to bring suspects to trial.
Importantly, a number of powerful states一many the home of powerful international corporations一are not under the jurisdiction of the ICC. China, India, Russia, Cuba and Indonesia, have not signed or ratified the Rome Statute which established the ICC. The U.S., Israel and Sudan stated that they do not intend to become of the court in the future.