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MEXICO CITY: Mexico has joined the EU, Brazil, the Netherlands, Scotland, Spain (Catalunya) and Belgium in proposing respective laws to make ecocide a criminal offense punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

The Stop Ecocide Foundation defines ecocide as “unlawful or wanton acts committed with knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of severe and either widespread or long-term damage to the environment being caused by those acts.”

Among the most serious environmental problems affecting Mexico’s environment are pollution, deforestation, waste management, global warming and fracking.

The proposed law declares it is fundamental for the country to recognise the concept of ecocide so that "those responsible for criminal acts against biodiversity can be judged and prevented from going unpunished" and considers that there will be no effective results if it is not done through the federal legal system.

"This initiative follows the one presented in Brazil last June. Similar initiatives are being prepared in Argentina, Chile and other Latin American countries,” explains Rodrigo Lledó, director of Stop Ecocide Americas and a member of the Panel of Independent Experts for the Legal Definition of Ecocide. “To adequately protect the environment, it is necessary for ecocide to become a crime not only internationally but also under national legislation.”

Earlier this year the European Parliament officially declared its support of the inclusion of ecocide-level crimes into the European Union’s revised Directive on protection of the environment through criminal law.

“It is greatly encouraging that the European Parliament is taking the concept of ecocide seriously,” said professor Philippe Sands KC, co-chair of the Independent Expert Panel for the Legal Definition of Ecocide.

“As with genocide and crimes against humanity in 1945, the global community is today faced with a new kind of threat: severe and widespread or long-term damage to the environment, of a kind that breaches existing legal obligations and corresponds to the emerging concept of ecocide. This is a most significant first step, as the EU seeks to play a leadership role in taking the region and the world to a more benign environmental future.”
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