I European Workshop on Environmental Crime: Illegal killing and taking of birds

Madrid,15th February 2015. On 11th February 2015 was held in Madrid the First European Workshop against Environmental Crime which brings together members of the European Network Against Environmental Crime (ENEC). The event, organized by SEO/BirdLife, was focused on improving the prosecution of environmental crimes in Europe, including crimes against wildlife and especially illegal killing and taking of birds. In total, the workshop brought together 35 experts from 18 European Members States (most of them members of BirdLife) as well as representatives of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), the project “European Union Action to Fight Environmental Crime” (EFFACE) and the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

During the workshop in Madrid it was discussed on the implementation in the different member state of the EU Directive 2008/99/EC on the protection of the environment through criminal law. This Directive has been fundamental for the recognition of the seriousness of certain actions on the environment and the establishment of penalties in the different EU countries providing protection against illegal killing and taking of birds. Furthermore, since not all countries provide the same penalties for identical offenses, one of the points discusses during the workshop was to review the homogeneity of sanctions in the EU, the legitimacy of NGOs to bring cases to court, the need for training and awareness legal professionals about the severity of environmental crimes or the importance of the Birds and Habitats Directives in defence of species and spaces.

ENEC members met in Madrid adopted a series of legal recommendations to eliminate illegal killing and taking of birds. This document agreed proposed a series of action to improve the implementation and enforcement of European Union and national laws in relation to that type of crimes. The main lines of action are the following:

  1. Assessment of the implementation of protection for species listed under Article 2(b) of Directive 2008/99/EC in national penal law.
  2. Harmonisation of criminal sanctions in the different Member states.
  3. Training, specialization and raising awareness measures targeted at judges, prosecutors, inspectorates, enforcement officers and lawyers on the seriousness of illegal killing and taking and its consequences on biodiversity conservation.
  4. Recognition of environmental Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) right to bring criminal proceedings in a court of law in cases of wildlife crime.
  5. Improving the implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives as necessary legal instruments to protect wildlife against illegal killing and taking.
  6. Information exchange, cooperation and networking between legal professionals.

For each of these lines of action a series of actions is proposed for their development (more information in the complete document attached).