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Home arrow Environment arrow Fighting Environmental Crime in Europe and Beyond: The Role of the EU and Its Member States
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Framing the Issue

What Is the Crime in Question?

In the Italian legal system, there is no legal definition of ‘Environmental Crime’ (EC). In legal terms, EC refers to environmental offences punished by criminal sanctions. According to Italian legal order, most environmental offences are misdemeanours (contravvenzioni), which fall outside of the criminal code and do not constitute a coherent system of rules. In fact, the several related laws issued by the Italian legislature result from disconnected interventions in different environment-related fields.[1] Some distinctions for felonies do, however, exist: Article 260 Environmental Code (Legislative Decree 152/2006) provides for the felony of ‘organised activities for the illegal trafficking of waste’. However, several massive protests by Campanian citizens against the illegal trafficking and disposal of waste forced the Italian government to introduce a new law against waste-related activities (Law 6 February 2014, No. 6, Article 256-bis Environmental Code), which punishes the illicit combustion of waste and provides harsh penalties for the burning of waste, previously punishable only as a misdemeanour.

Only recently, Law 68/2015 introduced a new chapter (VI bis) to the Italian penal code regarding and defining crimes against the environment: environmental disaster, intentional crimes against the environment, fatal injuries as a result of the crime of environmental pollution, and the traffic of and abandonment of highly radioactive material (and related consequential side effects). In terms of the severity of the applicable penalty, the most significant crimes are: 1) ‘environmental pollution’ (Article 452a), punished by imprisonment for 2—6 years and a fine from €10,000 to €100,000 (if it causes death or bodily harm, sentences are harsher [Article 452b]); and 2) ‘environmental disaster’ (Article 452c), punished by imprisonment for 5—15 years.

  • [1] Vagliasindi et al. (2015).
 
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