The International Criminal Court in The Hague, normally associated with war crimes of violence, on September 15 issued a new Policy Paper which expands the terms of its case selection and prioritization to include cases relating to “the destruction of the environment and the illegal exploitation of natural resources or the illegal dispossession of land.” The Guardian summarized developments on September 15: “ ICC widens remit to include environmental destruction cases” in The Guardian (Sept. 15) , and Global Witness issued a press release: “Company executives could now be tried for land grabs and environmental destruction”. The policy change comes as the Prosecutor of the ICC considers whether to investigate a 2014 case filing that catalogues mass human rights abuses linked to systematic land seizures in Cambodia. Global Witness, an advocacy group, published On Dangerous Ground in June 2016, documenting the extent of the problem: “More than three people were killed a week in 2015 defending their land, forests and rivers against destructive industries. … we documented 185 killings across 16 countries – by far the highest annual death toll on record and more than double the number of journalists killed in the same period.”
2015 was also the year of the murder of Berta Cáceres, the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize-winner for her decade-long opposition to the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam on her community’s land in Honduras.