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Criminal Law Protection of the Environment


Criminal law protection of the environment is an instrument that relies on the use of criminal law to prevent, deter, and punish all forms of behavior that cause harm or potentially endanger the environment. Violation of environmental values becomes subject to criminal liability when the prescribed consequences defined by the Criminal Code of the Republic of Serbia occur. Criminal offenses against the environment encompass a range of activities that cause significant harm or risk to the environment and/or human health.

Domestic Legislation

The Criminal Code of the Republic of Serbia, in Chapter XXIV, prescribes 18 criminal offenses aimed at protecting the human right to a healthy environment:

  • Environmental pollution;
  • Failure to take environmental protection measures;
  • Unlawful construction and operation of facilities and installations that pollute the environment;
  • Damage to environmental protection facilities and equipment;
  • Environmental damage;
  • Destruction, damage, exportation, and importation of protected natural assets;
  • Importation of hazardous substances into Serbia and unauthorized processing, disposal, and storage of hazardous substances;
  • Unauthorized construction of nuclear facilities;
  • Violation of the right to information on the state of the environment;
  • Killing and mistreatment of animals;
  • Transmission of infectious diseases in animals and plants;
  • Negligent provision of veterinary assistance;
  • Production of harmful animal treatment agents;
  • Contamination of food and water for animal consumption;
  • Deforestation;
  • Forest theft;
  • Illegal hunting;
  • Illegal fishing.

Criminal offenses against the environment represent one of the most profitable organized criminal activities globally and have a significant impact not only on the environment but also on human health. These criminal offenses are highly lucrative, but they are difficult to detect, prosecute, and punish. Such factors make them highly attractive to organized criminal groups.

According to EU data, environmental crime ranks as the fourth largest organized crime in the world, with an annual growth rate of 5-7%. These statistics indicate that organized environmental crime results in a loss of up to 230 billion euros globally every year.

We invite all those interested in learning more about criminal law protection of the environment to register for participation in the Green Justice Conference: Implementation of Horizontal Environmental Legislation at the following link.