Climate damage should be considered crime: Prof Shameem

May 28, 2024 3:43 pm

[File Photo]

University of Fiji Vice-Chancellor Professor Shaista Shameem says it is high time the investigation and prosecutorial services of the International Criminal Court should consider climate damage as a crime against humanity.

She further states that they should see it as capable of being prosecuted pursuant to the Rome Statute.

At a consultation held by the Office of the International Criminal Court Prosecutor on a Policy Paper on environmental crimes at the University of Amsterdam School of Law, Professor Shameem highlighted that the Rome Statute is capable of accommodating, for prosecution, specific crimes against environment, as long as there is a will within the ICC mechanisms to do so.

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Professor Shameem says a variety of international, regional and domestic courts, most recently the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, have provided sufficient precedence that the climate crisis is caused either by purposeful infliction of criminal harm to human beings or by lack of due diligence and duty of care.

She says domestic courts are often powerless to prosecute such crimes due to a lack of appropriate legislation or because of government inaction caused in many instances by undue influence of certain companies.

Professor Shameem complimented the ICC on its recent invitation for more staff to be recruited from Asia-Pacific saying that investigative specialists from the region, could add value to investigations and prosecution.

Fiji is a signatory to the Rome Statute.

The University of Fiji has also offered assistance to the ICC by monitoring environmental crimes in the Pacific region through on-going research using its I Vola Sigavou traditional Drua canoe.