International Criminal Court (ICC) considers broadening its remit
EXECUTIVES criminally responsible for land grabs and environmental destruction could begin to be charged in the same courts currently focused on war criminals.
Campaigners Global Witness have welcomed the decision of the ICC prosecutor Fatou B. Bensouda to reconsider its approach to “crimes that result in the illegal dispossession of land, the illegal exploitation of natural resources and the destruction of the environment”.
The ICC, still a fledgling institution founded in 2002, have indicted 39 individuals – mainly those involved in war crimes in the developing world. While the ICC has faced criticism for its narrow regional and political scope, campaigners hope further developments in international law can provide a more just global order.
Gillian Caldwell, Executive Director at Global Witness, said: "Chasing communities off their land and trashing the environment has become an accepted way of doing business in many resource-rich yet cash-poor countries.
"The decision by the ICC shows that the age of impunity is coming to an end. 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. The ICC’s interest could help improve the lives of millions of people and protect critical ecosystems."
Global Witness point to the global violence of land clearances – where millions of people have been forcibly removed from their homes – as an issue lacking judicial oversight.
In 2015 more than three people were murdered each week defending their land from destruction or theft.
The ICC is currently deliberating on whether to investigate mass human rights abuses linked to Cambodian land seizures, which involve business leaders cooperating with an authoritarian government.
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