Climate damage considered a crime against humanity - Professor Shaista Shameem

Climate damage considered a crime against humanity - Professor Shaista Shameem

By Iliana Biutu
Tuesday 28/05/2024
University of Fiji Vice Chancellor, Professor Shaista Shameem.

Climate damage is considered a crime against humanity and capable of being prosecuted under the Rome Statute.

This has been highlighted by the University of Fiji Vice Chancellor, Professor Shaista Shameem, during the consultation held by the Office of the International Criminal Court Prosecutor on a Policy Paper on environmental crimes at the University of Amsterdam School of Law.

Professor Shameem says the Rome Statute was capable of accommodating, for prosecution, specific crimes against the environment as crimes against humanity, as long as there was well within the International Criminal Court mechanisms to do so.

She says Article 7, “crimes against humanity,” in the Rome Statue can be applied in the general sense of environmental crimes causing harm to life and can be punished as a criminal act, for example in Art. 7 1. (k) where ‘… acts… causing great suffering or serious injury to body or mental and physical health’ are included. 

The Vice-Chancellor says other relevant clauses of the Rome Statute create the possibility to prosecute environmental destruction used as a means of extermination or forcible deportation of people.

She further says a variety of international, regional and domestic courts, most recently the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, had provided sufficient precedence that the climate crisis was caused either by purposeful infliction of criminal harm to human beings, or by lack of due diligence and duty of care, and was prosecutable.

She adds the Office of the ICC Prosecutor is developing a policy paper on environmental crimes based on the Rome Statute and other regulatory instruments of the Court, as well as on applicable environmental treaties, rules of customary international law, and the jurisprudence of other international and national courts.

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