Environmental Crime Law and Legal Definition

An environmental crime is a violation of environmental laws that are put into place to protect the environment. When broadly defined, the crime includes all illegal acts that directly cause environmental harm. Such crimes are also referred to as ‘crime against the environment.’ Although all illegal acts in violation of environmental legislations are environmental crimes, international bodies such as the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, G8, Interpol, EU, and UN Environment Programme have identified some specific crimes that come under the environmental crimes category. These include:

Dumping industrial wastes into water bodies, and illicit trade in hazardous waste in contravention of the 1989 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Other Wastes and their Disposal.

Unreported, unregulated, and illegal fishing in contravention to controls imposed by various regional fisheries management organizations.

Buying and selling endangered species in contravention to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Smuggling of Ozone depleting substances (ODS) in contravention to the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer;

Illegal logging and trade in stolen timber in violation of the wildlife laws.

All these illegal crimes are punishable.