Written answers

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Department of Justice and Equality

EU Directives

Photo of Jennifer WhitmoreJennifer Whitmore (Wicklow, Social Democrats)
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655. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if there is a Government commitment to promote the recognition of the crime of ecocide as part of the environmental crime directive revision discussion in the European Council; the way that he plans to recognise this commitment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31920/22]

Photo of Helen McEnteeHelen McEntee (Meath East, Fine Gael)
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Ireland recognises that multilateral responses are crucial to tackling environmental and climate-related challenges, and the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications engages with relevant EU and UN structures to support these objectives, both directly and through cross-departmental participation as appropriate, but I am informed that it has not had any engagement in relation to ecocide becoming a recognised crime in international law.

The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications advises me that Ireland engages actively through the EU to support the development of ambitious global responses to these challenges, in particular through the United Nations. A number of UN Framework Conventions, particularly on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and on Biological Diversity (UNCBD) provide mechanisms for international cooperation to tackle climate and ecological challenges, in particular through the adoption of ambitious treaties and agreements such as the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The Deputy will also be aware that the International Criminal Court (ICC) are examining the issue of ecocide. Any proposed amendments to the Rome Statute will be assessed by the relevant government departments and if there is sufficient support among States Parties for an agreed definition of ecocide, a formal amendment can be considered by the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute. The Environmental Crime Directive should not be confused with this process.

As the Deputy will be aware, the proposed Environmental Crime Directive is primarily a revision of Directive 2008/99/EC on the protection of the environment through criminal law that provides common minimum rules to criminalise environmental offences. The proposed Directive, which is currently the subject of negotiations, is concerned with environmental protection and ensuring that sanctions for environmental offences are effective.

The proposed Directive includes damage to an ecosystem as an aggravating circumstance under Article 8 of the proposal. All member states are actively engaged in discussions analysing all aspects of the Directive, including consideration of those related to the crime of ecocide.

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