Recent New Zealand efforts to combat environmental crime
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The question is what legal tools are the most effective to deal with significant and continued attacks on finite environmental resources. Is there a risk that environmental statutes and monetary sanctions imposed thereunder will be seen merely as tiresome regulations carrying nominal penalties, the payment of which is no more than a legitimate cost of doing business? Will the fact that such statutes include, as an ultimate sanction, imprisonment alter this perception? Will resort to prosecution under the traditional criminal law of fraud on the public provide a substantial disincentive to environmental offending, where corporate officers can anticipate a criminal conviction and the loss of liberty in the event of detection?
If the statement of the Court of Appeal in Walters is a guide, then the trend in New Zealand is likely to be imprisonment of offenders convicted of environmental crimes. Prosecutions under the Crimes Act will brand transgressors as criminals, and not as risk-taking entrepreneurs. The tools are available--which will the community use, a traditional criminal prosecution of environmental criminals, or prosecution under specific environmental statutes?
KeywordsInternational Economic Environmental Resource Criminal Conviction Environmental Crime Criminal Prosecution
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