“Criminal Environmental Law and Reparation of Damage to Nature”: Theme of the International Conference on Environmental Law

Colombia has a catalog of environmental crimes: Title XI of the Penal Code, Law 599 of 2000 “On Crimes Against Natural Resources and the Environment.”

By: Luis Felipe Guzmán Jimenez – Research Professor, Externado University of Colombia

However, this title was superseded by Law 2111 of 2021, which also greatly expanded the Colombian provisions on environmental crimes. Among the most notable changes in the Penal Code, we must point out the creation of new types of punishments such as: wildlife trafficking (Art. 328.A), illegal management of exotic species (Art. 329), deforestation (Art. 330). , promotion and financing of deforestation (Art. 330A), damage to natural resources and ecocide (Art. 333), financing of the invasion of areas of special ecological importance (Art. 336 A), illegal appropriation of derelict lands of the nation (Art. 337) and financing the illegal appropriation of the nation’s vacant lots (Art. 337 A).

The same procedural body also introduced changes with regard to the factors of competence, protective measures, the administrative organization of the prosecution, especially with the creation of the Directorate for Territorial Support at the General Prosecutor’s Office of the country, as well as the creation of the Specialized Directorate for Crimes Against Natural Resources and the Environment. which “shall have as its primary function the investigation and prosecution of crimes against natural resources and the environment and other related or connected criminal conduct, through interdisciplinary work, without prejudice to the jurisdiction of the Sectional Guidelines on the matter” and of the National Legal Protection Agency of the state was ordered to develop and implement a policy to prevent illegal damage in matters of environmental and environmental protection (Art. 10. Law 2111 of 2021), among others .

The criminal types addressed in the recent law impose some very important challenges not only for the Office of the Attorney General of the nation, but also for all the environmental authorities of the country and the entities of the National Environmental System (SINA), as they must accompany a process of strengthening of the charging entity’s capacity to investigate this type of behavior that affects the environment as a protected asset.

Given the above, academic spaces for learning and discussion are critical to addressing the types of environmental criminals who are incidentally empty types of criminals. The above poses some very important challenges. The normative reference must meet the requirement of clarity and specificity necessary as a guarantee to preserve the principle of legality. The reference should not allow for misunderstandings, it should be precise and specific. The Constitutional Court in decision C-605/06 established the requirements for the blank criminal type so that the reference to norms of administrative rank is constitutional.

Therefore, the Department of Environmental Law of the Externado de Colombia University will dedicate the XXIV International Conference on Environmental Law to environmental criminal law and the recovery of environmental damages. We have created an academic program that wants to contribute to filling the gaps that legitimate operators may have regarding environmental crimes and their new regulations. The program is structured on the basis of five thematic axes: Session I. Environmental criminal law; Session II. Types of environmental criminals; Session III. evidentiary procedural issues; Session IV. Sanctions and penalties; Session V. Restitution of environmental damage. Which will take place on October 12, 13 and 14, 2022 at the Externado de Colombia University.

The conference is addressed to all those interested in learning more about these issues and especially to environmental authorities, to sectors that develop projects, works or activities with an environmental impact, to judges, prosecutors, judicial police officers, officials authorities, environmental experts, litigants, consultants, regulatory agency officials, environmental police and national and international scientists.

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