The Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation Yury Chaika took part in a joint seminar of heads of Prosecution Services of the BRICS and MERCOSUR member states on combating environmental crime

24 august 2017, 17:03

Today, 24 August 2017, the delegation of the Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation in the framework of its working visit to the Federal Republic of Brazil took part in a joint seminar of heads of Prosecution Services of the BRICS member states and the competent authorities of the MERCOSUR countries (Common Market of the South America). The meeting was devoted to combating environmental crimes.

The Head of the Russian delegation Yuri Chaika, the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation, in his address noted that it was not accidental that the year 2017 was declared the Year of Ecology in Russia. The Russian Federation pays great attention to this issue, it has extensive regulatory framework in place and a system of authorized state bodies and mechanisms for ensuring environmental safety.

At the same time, an important role in ensuring legality in the sphere of environmental protection and nature management is assigned to the prosecution authorities. To increase efficiency of supervision over compliance with laws in the environmental sphere, a separate structural subdivision was established in the Prosecutor General's Office of Russia, and 81 environmental prosecutor's offices operate within the entire prosecution system.

Efficient fight against environmental crimes and violations largely depends on the degree of consolidation of efforts of the state, law enforcement and control bodies and various institutions of civil society. To this end, three interdepartmental working groups have been set up in the central administration of the Prosecution Service, which carry out activities in various environmental areas.

In addition, the criminal legislation is constantly developing, in recent years the list of objects of criminal offences has been expanding, and the responsibility for their commission has been strengthening.

Overall, to date, the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation provides for 30 special and related definitions of environmental crimes. They include criminally punishable acts involving violation of the rules of forest use, protection and use of mineral resources. Criminal liability is established for the pollution of water, atmosphere, the marine environment, illegal hunting and the extraction of aquatic biological resources, including particularly valuable species included in the Red Book or protected by the international treaties of the Russian Federation.

In general, the analysis of the environmental crime in Russia reveals a trend towards reduction of offences in recent years. From 2009 to 2016, the number of crimes registered in the country in this area decreased by half (from 46 thousand to 23 thousand).

Almost two thirds of them are facts of illegal logging, destruction or damage to forest plantations. One of the criminalized areas is illegal export of timber. There is an urgent problem of pollution of water bodies, including a unique ecosystem such as Lake Baikal. At the same time, environmental crimes have a high degree of latency.

Yury Chaika stressed that the preservation of the environment cannot be a task for a single country. Problems of climate change, reduction of biodiversity, water and air pollution, reduction of forest area have become transnational. Therefore, it is necessary to unite efforts, organize the exchange of experience and promote the efficiency of coordination of activities in countering environmental crime.

To date, in each country the legislative framework for environmental protection, the established scope and type of measures aimed at eliminating harmful consequences, are different. This, to some extent, makes international cooperation more difficult.

In conclusion, the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation Yury Chaika proposed that all the states including member states of MERCOSUR and BRICS, intensify their efforts to harmonize national environmental laws.

The development of a consolidated position on the above issues would ensure the possibility of its promotion at various international venues, including events conducted both by the United Nations and other international organizations.

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