Law Enforcement and Crime Prevention
The case studies show that environmental crime is facilitated by numerous factors that allow criminals to reap huge gains at low risk. Among these factors, weak laws and regulations full of loopholes and lenient penalties figure prominently (see Chaps. 3, 5, and 6). In addition, rigid law enforcement is often non-existent either due to corruption, weak state capacity, the absence of a rule of law culture (e.g. in Kosovo and Armenia), or because environmental crime is not made a political priority, which leads to minimal funding and training for law enforcement agencies (e.g. in the case of e-waste shipping and wildlife trafficking). Finally, environmental crime is sometimes difficult to detect and requires specific expertise. Wildlife trafficking serves as a telling example, as law enforcement officers are often unable to detect protected species (Chap. 5).
Given these facilitating factors, it is not surprising that law enforcement is often lacking. While we see some encouraging developments in Italy and China, the overall record of law enforcement is unimpressive. If the state largely fails to fight environmental crime, the role of victims and their organizations becomes even more important. If victims of environmental crime are recognized and protected as such, they are more likely to organize in the fight against environmental crime and join forces with state agencies. If they are not, the criminal justice system loses important evidence and the enforcement of laws against criminals becomes less effective. Three case studies clearly demonstrate the critical role that victims and nongovernmental organizations are able to assume in pushing for stricter laws, monitoring criminal activities, calling out the perpetrators and their stooges in state and government, and increasing the public’s awareness of pollution and threats to biodiversity (Chap. 3, 7, and 8).
The contributors to this volume also examine ways to prevent environmental crime. Maher and Sollund, for instance, point out that wildlife trafficking is driven by consumer demand, and information campaigns against wildlife trafficking might reduce the demand for animals and animal parts (Chap. 5). As far as the illegal shipping of e-waste is concerned, what drives this crime is the tremendous amount of e- waste produced in the global north. Stricter regulations that would reduce the amount of waste produced would help mitigate this push factor (Chap. 5). A small, but good, example is the introduction of standard chargers for (almost) all cell phones in the EU. Finally, rights- based management helps to overcome the Tragedy of the Commons in the fishing industry and allow owners of fishing fleets to buy fishing permits if there are underutilized vessels. This will reduce incentives for illegal fishing.
The role of the EU in helping its member states and other states with which the EU maintains close political and economic ties to prevent and combat environmental crime is potentially huge. By passing the European Crime Directive and the Waste Framework Directive, the EU has already clearly articulated its willingness to combat environmental crime. Through the Common Fisheries Policy, it can directly control illegal fishing. Moreover, the EU has signed several international treaties
that oblige the EU and its member states to fight, for instance, wildlife trafficking (one being CITES). Finally, through its European Neighbourhood Policy and the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, the EU can support non-EU member states to combat environmental crime more effectively. Yet in the end, the EU lacks a strong executive branch. It has to rely on national governments to implement its directives, regulations, and programs. In the case of Armenia, its leverage is undermined by the strong presence of Russia in the region. In Kosovo, it has to deal with weak state capacity. And even its own member states show a woefully inconsistent willingness and capacity to enforce environmental laws. While this all does not bode well for the fight against environmental crime, several measures with the potential to make the fight a bit easier can still be taken. The concluding section of this chapter will summarize some of these measures.