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ICC widens remit to include environmental destruction cases

Author: John Vidal & Owen Bowcott, Guardian (UK), Published on: 15 September 2016

... The UN-backed court ... has mostly ruled on cases of genocide and war crimes ... It has been criticised for its reluctance to investigate major environmental and cultural crimes, which often happen in peacetime. In a change of focus, the ICC said ... it would also prioritise crimes that result in the “destruction of the environment”, “exploitation of natural resources” and the “illegal dispossession” of land. It also included an explicit reference to land-grabbing. The court, which is funded by governments and is regarded as the court of last resort, said it would now take many crimes that have been traditionally under-prosecuted into consideration. The ICC is not formally extending its jurisdiction, but the court said it would assess existing offences, such as crimes against humanity, in a broader context ... Rogers has lodged a case with the ICC on behalf of 10 Cambodians alleging that the country’s ruling elite, including its government and military, has perpetuated mass rights violations since 2002 in pursuit of wealth and power by grabbing land and forcibly evicting up to 350,000 people. “Cambodia is a perfect example for this new ICC focus. It fits in to the new criteria,” he said. He predicted it could have a bearing on the way business is done in certain countries. “Companies who want to invest in [some] places risk being complicit in crimes against humanity. Tackling land-grabbing will also help address some of the causes of climate change, since deforestation is very often a result of land-grabbing" ... The ICC paper also lists other crimes, such as arms trafficking, human trafficking, terrorism and financial crimes, in which it intends to provide more help to individual states to carry out national prosecutions.

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