The Council of Ministers approved Thursday, in second reading, the bill reforming Book 2 of the Penal Code. Ecocide is one of the new types of crimes listed, thus allowing Belgium to become one of the few countries in the European Union to include it in its Criminal Code. “A step forward for nature,” commented several environmental defense associations on Friday, including Stop Ecocide Belgium and Greenpeace.
Ecocide refers to severe and widespread environmental destruction and degradation that has a negative and long-term impact on ecosystems. It now appears in the national penal codes of 12 countries, including Belgium. “Serious damage to the environment which has long-term damage to ecosystems, on which human health depends, cannot go unpunished. Although the definition is narrower than I had hoped, I am delighted to see Belgium today join this group of pioneering countries in this field”, underlined Zakia Khattabi, Federal Minister for the Environment.
“Although the law is much more restrictive than we hoped, this is an important step in the right direction”, commented Friday Patricia Willocq, founder and director of Stop Ecocide Belgium. “It is now up to parliament to enforce the law,” she adds. The associations for the defense of the environment deplore the fact that the bill was limited to only federal powers in the field of the environment. Since the crime of ecocide is considered a serious crime, it will be at level six in the new sentencing scale which has eight levels, which is equivalent to imprisonment for 10 to 20 years.
This article is originally published on rtbf.be