INTERPOL targets environmental crime
The resolution approved by INTERPOL's 188 national law enforcement authority members recognizes that "environmental crime is not restricted by borders and involves organized crime networks which engage in other crime types including murder, corruption, fraud and theft."
"Today's vote clearly shows how seriously the police community of the world takes environmental crime and we look forward to the ongoing support of our member countries in this area," said David Higgins, manager of INTERPOL's Environmental Crime Programme, who presented the resolution to the conference.
The resolution pledges support to back the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and to fight environmental crime.
Addressing the Assembly shortly before the resolution was considered by more than 650 delegates from 141 countries, CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon said police agencies are an integral and essential part of the conservation community.
Scanlon praised INTERPOL for preparing such a resolution in 2010, the United Nations' International Year of Biodiversity and congratulated INTERPOL and the international policing community on their vote.
INTERPOL's Environmental Crime Programme works to provide assistance and support in the enforcement of national and international environmental laws and treaties by working alongside the 188 INTERPOL member countries and their Environmental Crime Committee.
The mission of INTERPOL's Environmental Crime Programme is to assist its member countries in the effective enforcement of national and international environmental laws and treaties. In this way we can contribute to the ongoing conservation of the world's environment, biodiversity and natural resources.
The Environmental Crime Programme also works towards enhancing and developing the abilities of INTERPOL member countries at a national level, for example concerning the deterrence, apprehension, investigation and prosecution of environmental criminals, and it helps co-ordinate the actions of multiple countries in cases with international implications.
Primarily, the Programme targets wildlife and pollution crime
Pollution crime is the handling, transport, trading, possessing and disposal of hazardous wastes or resources in contravention of national and international laws.
Whereas wildlife crime might initially appear to be victimless, pollution crime has a clear and direct human impact due to the hazardous nature of the substances in question.
As well as being harmful to health, the illegal disposal of waste into waterways, the air, and the ground can significantly damage a community's livelihood, destroy jobs, and lower property values. The effect of pollution crime on the natural environment can be global, and contributes directly to the worldwide issue of climate change.
This type of crime is an international issue as hazardous waste - especially from more developed nations where it is strictly controlled - can be illegally disposed of in less developed countries, taking advantage of lax or non-existent environmental controls or effective enforcement.
Pollution crime may also result in significant profits for criminals, in some cases totalling millions of dollars. The illegal actions of one company or even one individual can have far-reaching consequences beyond the damage caused by the initial act. A business which violates the law has an unfair economic advantage over a law-abiding one.
In today's global economy there is a need for an international strategy to deal with this type of crime. INTERPOL is uniquely qualified to assist in this effort and to this end has formed, in partnership with its member countries, the Pollution Crime Working Group. This brings together criminal investigators from around the world to share information and develop new strategies in the fight against pollution crimes.