The term 'ecocide' and incitement to suicide are set to be included in a reformed penal code, in the framework of a grander modernisation and simplification of the over 150 year-old code.
On Saturday, various outlets reported that reforms to Belgium's penal code had been approved by the Federal Government.
An announcement is set to be made by Federal Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open VLD) in the coming weeks, ecocide and inciting someone to commit suicide (either psychologically or physically) to be among the latest entries.
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The former is defined as serious and permanent damage to the environment on a large scale and will see those found guilty of committing such an offence could risk 10 to 20 years in prison.
Incitement to suicide would also be sanctioned, whether as a consequence of harassment or other violence such as sexual violence, the legal reform of which will also be included in the penal code. However, the new legislation may not come into force until 2025.
As previously reported, the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety recently agreed on an opinion proposing amendments to the revised EU directive on the protection of the environment.
The European Commission is still reluctant to include ecocide as an international crime in the revised directive. Vice-President Frans Timmermans told The Brussels Times that he believes that there is no workable legal definition of ecocide.
A senior EU official in charge of the Commission’s preparations for the climate change conference (COP27), which starts on Sunday in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, did not respond to a question on Friday from The Brussels Times whether the Commission will propose to add ecocide as an agenda point at the conference.