Ecocide / serious environmental crimes in national jurisdictions

Ecuador – Article 245

In Ecuador’s Penal Code, “crimes against the environment and nature or Pacha Mama and crimes against biodiversity” (Article 245).

Vietnam – Article 278

Under Vietnam’s Penal Code of 1990, Article 278, “ecocide, destroying the natural environment”, whether committed in time of peace or war, constitutes a crime against humanity.

Uzbekistan – Articles 196 & 198

Section 4 of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan details serious environmental offences. Articles 196 and 198 contain the greatest parallels to the crime of ecocide. Article 196 states that “Pollution or damage of land, water, or atmospheric air, resulted in mass disease incidence of people, death of animals, birds, or fish, or other grave consequences – shall be punished with fine from one hundred to two hundred minimum monthly wages or deprivation of certain right up to five years, or correctional labor up to three years.” The provision notes that the same acts which resulted in death of a person, “shall be punished with arrest from three to six months, or imprisonment up to three years and deprivation of certain right.” Article 198 provides that “Damage or destruction of crops, forest, or other plants as the result of negligent dealing with fire, resulted in large damage or other grave consequences – shall be punished with fine up to fifty minimum monthly wages, or correctional labor up to one year, or arrest up to three months. Illegal felling of timber or other plants, resulted in large damage – shall be punished with fine from fifty to seventy-five minimum monthly wages, or correctional labor from one year to two years, or arrest from three to six months, or imprisonment up to three years. Intentional damage or destruction of crops, forest, or other plants, resulted in large damage – shall be punished with fine from seventy-five to one hundred minimum monthly wages, or correctional labor from two to three years, or imprisonment up to three years.”

France – Article 231-3

France’s ‘Climate & Resilience Act’, passed in 2021, includes ecocide in two contexts. Firstly, as a “délit” under national law (Article 231-3), providing for up to 10 years imprisonment for those committing offences which “cause serious and lasting damage to health, flora, fauna or the quality of the air, soil or water.” Secondly, the government is obliged, under Article 296 of the new law, to report back to parliament within one year on “its action in favour of the recognition of ecocide as a crime which can be tried by international criminal courts.” The approval was passed by 44 votes to 10 in France’s lower house of parliament, and applies to “the most serious cases of environmental damage at national level”.

Russia – Article 358

Massive destruction of the animal or plant kingdoms, contamination of the atmosphere or water resources, and also commission of other actions capable of causing an ecological catastrophe, shall be punishable by deprivation of liberty for a term of 12 to 20 years.

Kazakhstan – Article 161

Mass destruction of flora or fauna, poisoning the atmosphere, land or water resources, as well as the commission of other acts which caused or a [sic] capable of causation of an ecological catastrophe, –

shall be punished by imprisonment for a period from ten to fifteen years.

Kyrgyz Republic – Article 374

Massive destruction of the animal or plant kingdoms, contamination of the atmosphere or water resources, and also commission of other actions capable of causing an ecological catastrophe, shall be punishable by deprivation of liberty for a term of 12 to 20 years.

Tajikistan – Article 400

Mass destruction of flora and fauna, poisoning the atmosphere or water resources, as well as commitment of other actions which may cause ecological disasters is punishable by imprisonment for a period of 15 to 20 years.

Georgia – Article 409

  1. Ecocide i.e. contamination of the atmosphere, soil, water resources, mass destruction of fauna or flora, or any other act that could have led to an ecological disaster, –

shall be punished by imprisonment for a term of twelve to twenty years.

  1. The same act committed during armed conflicts, –

shall be punished by imprisonment for a term of fourteen to twenty years or with life imprisonment.

Belarus – Article 131

Intentional mass destruction of flora or fauna, or poisoning of atmospheric air or water resources, or committing other deliberate actions capable of causing an ecological disaster (ecocide) -are punished with imprisonment for a term of ten to fifteen years.

Ukraine – Article 441

Mass destruction of flora and fauna, poisoning of air or water resources, and also any other actions that may cause an environmental disaster, –

shall be punishable by imprisonment for a term of eight to fifteen years.

Moldova – Article 136

Deliberate mass destruction of flora and fauna, poisoning the atmosphere or water resources, and the commission of other acts that may cause or caused an ecological disaster shall be punished by imprisonment for 10 to 15 years.

Armenia – Article 394

Mass destruction of flora or fauna, poisoning the environment, the soils or water resources, as well as implementation of other actions causing an ecological catastrophe, is punished with imprisonment for the term of 10 to 15 years.