Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) whose companies grab foreign land to exploit its natural resources without benefitting local inhabitants will in the future stand trial at the International Criminal Court as environment criminals, the UK-based Independent reported this week.
Thousands of poor people in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Nigeria and Brazil have been chased away from their land and cut off from their livelihood after foreign companies took away their land – with the complicity of the state – and left them homeless, hungry, depressed and on the brink of death.
The process has seen thousands of hectares of rainforests razed, agricultural land seized, rivers and lakes that these populations have been depending on for water and livelihood poisoned, among others.
Now, the ICC is coming to the rescue of these people who feel powerless in the face of rich multinationals which team up with corrupt state officials.
The move could reshape how business is done in developing countries, the Independent said.
“Chasing communities off their land and trashing the environment has become an accepted way of doing business in many resource-rich yet cash-poor countries,” Gillian Caldwell, Executive Director at Global Witness, was quoted by the Independent as saying.
“The ICC announcement sends a powerful message that the terrible impacts of land grabbing and environmental destruction have been acknowledged at the highest level of criminal justice,” Caldwell, whose NGO that has been urging the ICC to investigate the issue, said.