Themis Convenes Environmental Crime Training in Austria
INECE participated in the Second Environmental Crimes Training on 28-30 November 2012 in Vienna, Austria, convened by Themis. The meeting was organized in close cooperation with the Criminal Intelligence Service of Austria.
The training was aimed at participants from the Themis Network countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. The participants included environmental inspectorates and agencies, the police, customs, and prosecutors. The main objective of the training was to increase administrative capacities for the detection, investigation, and prosecution of environmental crimes.
Experts presented an overview of the meaning of environmental crimes and the use of criminal law to prosecute environmental offences were discussed. The legal framework, the EU directive on environmental crime, was explained. Austria presented practical examples of criminal laws that can be used for environmental protection and enforcement.
Important outcomes of the workshops were:
- The need for cooperation and coordination due to the fact that responsibilities and expertise in relation to environmental crime issues are often split between different branches of the administration.
- The main areas were discussed of environmental crime investigation and prosecution, in particular waste (illegal dumping and illegal shipping) and its relationship to penal law.
- How were the environmental crime cases detected, how are they investigated, what was the relevant national legal framework and how to handle the fact that more than one agency was involved in the investigation and prosecution of the cases?
Presentations were also made by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The first presentation was about the wildlife and forest crime toolkitand the second presentation was about the activities of UNODC’s container control programme.
An important exercise during the training was the mapping of environmental challenges in the participating countries.
Croatia presented a report on developments of an in-country network, which resulted in a handbook for cooperation as well as the participation in an international cooperation project. Additional information on the Croatian initiative is available at http://www.en.ecocop.hr/project-documents/main-documents.html.
The Austrian Development Cooperation and the Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Unweltbundesamt funded this training.
Themis’ webpage on the training provides information on the meeting background, as well as suggested reading and the presentations from the event.
About Themis: The Themis Network is a regional cooperation initiative between the environmental law enforcement units of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo (as defined by UNSCR 1244), the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, including parts of the judiciary system. The aim is to increase administrative capacities in the relevant national authorities to tackle environmental crime and enhance regional dialogue and cooperation in the context of approximation to European Union environmental legislation. See: http://themis.rec.org/ for more information.