“The world is a fine place and worth fighting for!”
Wrote Ernest Hemingway over eighty years ago.
Now the fight is a different one – with climate change, plastic waste, destruction of native forests and deaths from pollution. The damage we all do to our world is at a tipping point!
For the last week I have been in Ghana completing the drafting of two manuals – one to support investigations of crimes and the other dedicated to prosecuting environmental crimes. Whilst capacity building to tackle all crimes is important, environmental crimes are rarely prosecuted, yet impact our planet more!
I have learnt much in the drafting and validation process of the Ghana Environmental Crimes Prosecution Manual: The vast array of legislation, with lack of deterrent sentences; the cross-over between organised crime groups (OCG) and environmental crime, with OCGs working out gaps in capacity or where punishments are worth the risk; and the proposal for an international crime of ‘ecocide‘ to criminalise the loss of ecosystems.
Whilst laws need to be amended, updated and passed – Earth has no time.
Our precious environment is a helpless victim to its citizen’s crimes. Earth needs defending and law enforcement agencies and prosecutors must step up and be counted. Their role is vital to bring those who seek to rape and pillage our waterways, forests, air and minerals to account – otherwise we will be beyond the tipping point!
Of course a Manual cannot on its own solve all the failures and excuses – but it highlights a positive attitude from investigators and prosecutors to collate resources and dedicate time to understanding where changes are necessary.
I hope all those in Ghana who have contributed to the Manual will use it as a valuable tool to bring to justice those who use children to illegally mine for gold and poison surrounding waters with cyanide, or unsustainably fish or traffic rare wildlife or carry out logging in nature reserves.
To all those who commit these crimes – watch out – the prosecutors are coming to defend Mother Earth!