News Detail

New Environmental Criminal Law


On May 2nd, 2012, it was published on the Official Gazette of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela N° 39.913 the new Environmental Criminal Law, which Object is “…to typify as a crime the activities that attempt against the natural resources and the environment and to impose criminal sanctions. Also, to determine the all possible precautionary measures, of restitution and repair and the procedural regulations derived from the specificity of environmental issues”.

The main change was the establishment of the Objectivity of the Criminal Environmental Liability: “The criminal liability, to the effects of the environmental,…is objective and to prove it is only needed to prove the violation, not been necessary to prove the guilt.”

Likewise, for Legal Entities is established that they “…will be responsible for their actions or omissions in the cases where the crime is performed in violation of rules and dispositions contained in laws, decrees, orders, bylaws, resolutions and other general or particular administrative acts of compulsory fulfillment”, for which, besides the sanctions established in the former law, it is included “the dissolution of the Legal Entity;…the suspension of the exercise of the position of executives and representative of the Legal Entity up to three years, after fulfilling the principal sanction;…The execution of environmental services to the affected community, that may consist in environmental works according to their possibilities, financing of programs, projects or environmental publications, contributions to environmental entities under the coordination and supervision of the National Environmental Authority, execution of recovery works in the affected areas or maintenance of public places;…The mandatory participation in courses and environmental management classes”.

It is introduced the Joint Liability for the case of two legal entities that celebrate agreements to execute a determined work in benefit of the other, and which performance causes risks or damages to the environment or the natural resources. Also, the employer can be punished due to the activities performed by their employees: “Who allows the execution of any of the crimes established in this law by anybody or any legal entity that is under his direction, knowing about it and been able to stop it, will be equally punished as the performed crime, minus a third part of it”.

The law also establishes a special regime for People and Native Communities: “The members of People and Native Communities that commit a crime that is typified in this Law in their habitat and ancient lands will be judged according to the established in the Organic Law of People and Native Communities. In any case it will be exempt from the application of the sanctions established in this law, the legal entities or people that instigate or take advantage of the good faith of the natives to general damages to the environment. If it’s needed, the judge might take the precautionary measures to guarantee the protection of the environment and the harmonious relation of the native communities; the judge will request a socio-anthropological report to the national governing body of native’s politics and will bear in mind the opinion of people and communities affected”. Regarding the classification of crimes, the new law makes a new distribution and determination of environmental crimes by including other crimes that were regulated in other related laws, such as Crimes against the biological diversity, Crimes against the environmental quality, among others.

Finally, it is established that the law will be enforced after ninety days starting on the date of its publication in the Official Gazette of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.