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Straffrätten och skada på miljön - En studie av harmprincipens förhållande till kriminalisering på miljöområdet

Shami, Emilie LU (2011) JURM01 20111
Department of Law
Abstract (Swedish)
Frågan om bevarande av och långsiktigt utnyttjande av miljön framstår som en av vår tids viktigaste frågor. Bland tillgängliga åtgärder på miljöområdet finns kriminalisering: ett styrmedel med kraftfull klang men med begränsad räckvidd och nytta och framför allt en åtgärd som endast bör användas som sista utväg i enlighet med principen om ultima ratio.

Sålunda anses varje straffbeläggande generellt för att vara god¬tagbart behöva upp¬fylla ett antal krav som uppställs i begränsande kriminaliserings¬¬-principer. En fram¬trädande sådan princip och fokus för den här uppsatsen är kravet att gärnings¬typen orsakar skada. Den övergripande frågeställningen för upp¬satsen är sålunda hur kriminalisering på miljöområdet förhåller sig till kravet... (More)
Frågan om bevarande av och långsiktigt utnyttjande av miljön framstår som en av vår tids viktigaste frågor. Bland tillgängliga åtgärder på miljöområdet finns kriminalisering: ett styrmedel med kraftfull klang men med begränsad räckvidd och nytta och framför allt en åtgärd som endast bör användas som sista utväg i enlighet med principen om ultima ratio.

Sålunda anses varje straffbeläggande generellt för att vara god¬tagbart behöva upp¬fylla ett antal krav som uppställs i begränsande kriminaliserings¬¬-principer. En fram¬trädande sådan princip och fokus för den här uppsatsen är kravet att gärnings¬typen orsakar skada. Den övergripande frågeställningen för upp¬satsen är sålunda hur kriminalisering på miljöområdet förhåller sig till kravet på skada, främst som det formulerats genom the harm principle (harm¬principen) med fokus på Joel Feinbergs definition. Studien är rätts- och moralfilosofiskt inriktad, men nuvarande kriminalisering på miljö-området används exemplifierande för att belysa särskilda problemområden.

Skador på miljön har nämligen vissa särdrag som utmärker dem från skador som traditionellt angetts som skäl för kriminalisering med stöd av harm-principen. Miljö¬påverkan har ett nära samband till samhälls¬utvecklingen, inte minst den tekniska utvecklingen. De uppkommer ofta genom risk-tagande och som en systematisk bieffekt av mänsklig verksamhet som producerar nytta, inte genom gärningar med direkt avsikt att skada. Miljö-skadorna är också många gånger abstrakta, vidspridda och ospecifika, utan tydliga ansvariga och tydliga offer.

De skadande eller riskfyllda gärningarna kan sålunda endast med svårighet relateras till de koncept som enligt Feinberg ger harmprincipen dess inne-börd. Det finns även exempel på gärningstyper som medför miljöskador och där harm¬principen kan ge tydliga skäl för kriminalisering, men två specifika problem¬områden framträder. Den största svårigheten när miljö-kriminaliseringar ska förhållas till harmprincipen är att miljöskadorna är – i olika bemärkelser – avlägsna de gärningstyper som orsakar dem.

För det första utgör vissa typer av miljöskador exempel på så kallad ackumulerad skada, eftersom en skada först uppkommer först när flera fristående agerande utgör gärningar som isolerade inte innebär skada, men som påverkar miljön i skadande riktning. Miljöförorening utgör typfallet av ackumulerad skada. Det råder ingen konsensus om hur sådana fall förhåller sig till harmprincipen och kriminalisering. En möjlighet är att kriminalisering endast kan rättfärdigas då straffrättsliga sanktioner enbart fungerar som uppbackning till ett administrativt system. Harmprincipen upp¬¬visar emellertid även då vissa teoretiska svagheter. (Minst) fyra problem¬¬områden framkommer: formuleringen av rättigheter, komplexiteten i intresse¬-avvägningen, upprätthållandet av principens allmän¬giltighet och brist på klandervärdhet.
För det andra befinner sig gärningstyper som önskas kriminaliseras för att skydda miljön ofta på stort avstånd från att skada faktiskt uppkommer. Till stor del rör det sig om kriminalisering av risk¬tagande. Harmprincipen erbjuder schemat the Standard Harm Analysis för urskiljande av godtagbart avstånd genom analys av skadans sannolikhet och magnitud, men miljöskadornas särdrag försvårar avvägningarna som härvid måste göras.

En möjlighet är att komplettera harmprincipen med ytterligare urskiljande principer genom utvecklande resonemang om klandervärdhet. Tillräcklig-heten av klanderresonemang visar sig dock svår att bedöma, eftersom en full¬ständig klanderteori avseende avlägsna skador saknas. Sammanfattande kan sägas att förhållandet mellan harmprincipen och miljökriminalisering är problematiskt och problemets kärna tycks utgöras av att utifrån harm-principen formulera skäl för kriminalisering på miljöområdet, samtidigt som principens begränsande kapacitet upprätthålls. I min mening behöver inte det utgöra ett skäl för att överge harmprincipen. Principen utgör egentligen bara en konkretisering av det – alltjämt – fundamentala straffrättsliga syftet att förhindra skada. Eftersom kriminalisering på miljö¬området innebär att harmprincipen utvidgas, är det dock viktigt att den kompletteras med ytterligare urskiljande principer, där frågan om klander blir central. (Less)
Abstract
Environmental sustainability is one of the most important issues of our time and environmental harm can be dealt with in numerous ways. One strategy is to use criminal prohibitions. Fighting environmental crime has a powerful ring to it, but the reach of the criminal law is limited and its usefulness often highly (and sadly) overestimated. Such factors, combined with the adverse effects typically associated with criminal law, suggest criminal prohibitions should only be used as a last resort. In order to distinguish behavior that can be justifiably criminalized from behavior that cannot, limiting principles are needed. One such principle is the harm principle, coined by John Stuart Mill and further developed by Joel Feinberg, among others.... (More)
Environmental sustainability is one of the most important issues of our time and environmental harm can be dealt with in numerous ways. One strategy is to use criminal prohibitions. Fighting environmental crime has a powerful ring to it, but the reach of the criminal law is limited and its usefulness often highly (and sadly) overestimated. Such factors, combined with the adverse effects typically associated with criminal law, suggest criminal prohibitions should only be used as a last resort. In order to distinguish behavior that can be justifiably criminalized from behavior that cannot, limiting principles are needed. One such principle is the harm principle, coined by John Stuart Mill and further developed by Joel Feinberg, among others. The purpose of the principle is to guide the legislator by affirming moral constraints on her choices and the focus of this essay is to explore if the harm principle can work as a limiting principle on the scope of the environmental criminal law.

The characteristics of environmental harm differ in some crucial respects from the kinds of harm usually referred to when using the harm principle as an argument for criminalization. The impact on the environment is closely connected to societal and technical development and environmental damage is often the result of risk taking in the course of activities that is valuable and quite commonplace. The damages tend to be abstract, widespread and unspecific, without a clear accountable actor and a clear victim.

Relating the damage-causing behavior to the concepts which, according to Feinberg, defines the harm principle, therefore poses several challenges. There are of course cases of behavior which clearly can be categorized as harming through the concept of conduct-cause-harm. Two specifically problematic areas are, however, prominent. Both relate to the fact that criminalization concerning the environment usually concerns itself with remote harms.

Firstly, some cases of environmental harm are accumulative in the sense that only when several actors, through their independent conduct, contribute to the impact will the harm-threshold be surpassed. Environmental pollution is a typical case of such accumulative harm. A general prohibition doesn’t seem to be supported by the harm principle in such cases. One way to deal with accumulative harm is to enforce an elaborative regulative scheme, with criminal law only providing backup sanctions. Even though the harm principle supports such a scheme, several weaknesses remain, most importantly to do with the complexity of the interests concerned and the difficulties concerning blameworthiness and the imputation of fault.

Secondly, the criminalized conduct is often distant from the resulting harm. Most often the criminalized behavior only involves a risk, not actual harming. The Standard Harm Analysis can be used to address the issue of remote harm by analysis of the likelihood and magnitude of the risk, but the characteristics of environmental harm do however make this difficult.

One possible solution is to supplement the harm principle with additional principles concerning blameworthiness and fair imputation of fault. Whether such an approach will prove sufficient is difficult to determine, since no complete theory of fair imputability concerning remote harms exists.

In conclusion, applying the harm principle as a way of limiting the scope of the criminal law poses several problems when it comes to the area of environmental criminal law. The heart of the problem lies in finding a way of using the harm principle to formulate reasons for criminalization without extending the scope of the principle in such a way that its limiting effect is lost. I don’t believe this is reason enough to abandon the harm principle completely or in the environmental context; what the principle offers is simply a developed theory of that which is the fundamental basis for all criminal law – the aim of preventing harm. It does, however, indicate a need of finding ways of supplementing the harm principle, since criminalization concerning environmental harm means extending the harm principle in such a way that it loses all of its limiting capacity. The questions of blameworthiness and fair imputation of fault will undoubtedly prove essential to such an endeavor. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Shami, Emilie LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
Environmental Harm and the Harm Principle
course
JURM01 20111
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Straffrätt
language
Swedish
id
2154785
date added to LUP
2011-09-12 08:59:51
date last changed
2011-09-12 08:59:51
@misc{2154785,
  abstract     = {Environmental sustainability is one of the most important issues of our time and environmental harm can be dealt with in numerous ways. One strategy is to use criminal prohibitions. Fighting environmental crime has a powerful ring to it, but the reach of the criminal law is limited and its usefulness often highly (and sadly) overestimated. Such factors, combined with the adverse effects typically associated with criminal law, suggest criminal prohibitions should only be used as a last resort. In order to distinguish behavior that can be justifiably criminalized from behavior that cannot, limiting principles are needed. One such principle is the harm principle, coined by John Stuart Mill and further developed by Joel Feinberg, among others. The purpose of the principle is to guide the legislator by affirming moral constraints on her choices and the focus of this essay is to explore if the harm principle can work as a limiting principle on the scope of the environmental criminal law. 

The characteristics of environmental harm differ in some crucial respects from the kinds of harm usually referred to when using the harm principle as an argument for criminalization. The impact on the environment is closely connected to societal and technical development and environmental damage is often the result of risk taking in the course of activities that is valuable and quite commonplace. The damages tend to be abstract, widespread and unspecific, without a clear accountable actor and a clear victim. 

Relating the damage-causing behavior to the concepts which, according to Feinberg, defines the harm principle, therefore poses several challenges. There are of course cases of behavior which clearly can be categorized as harming through the concept of conduct-cause-harm. Two specifically problematic areas are, however, prominent. Both relate to the fact that criminalization concerning the environment usually concerns itself with remote harms.

Firstly, some cases of environmental harm are accumulative in the sense that only when several actors, through their independent conduct, contribute to the impact will the harm-threshold be surpassed. Environmental pollution is a typical case of such accumulative harm. A general prohibition doesn’t seem to be supported by the harm principle in such cases. One way to deal with accumulative harm is to enforce an elaborative regulative scheme, with criminal law only providing backup sanctions. Even though the harm principle supports such a scheme, several weaknesses remain, most importantly to do with the complexity of the interests concerned and the difficulties concerning blameworthiness and the imputation of fault. 

Secondly, the criminalized conduct is often distant from the resulting harm. Most often the criminalized behavior only involves a risk, not actual harming. The Standard Harm Analysis can be used to address the issue of remote harm by analysis of the likelihood and magnitude of the risk, but the characteristics of environmental harm do however make this difficult. 

One possible solution is to supplement the harm principle with additional principles concerning blameworthiness and fair imputation of fault. Whether such an approach will prove sufficient is difficult to determine, since no complete theory of fair imputability concerning remote harms exists.  

In conclusion, applying the harm principle as a way of limiting the scope of the criminal law poses several problems when it comes to the area of environmental criminal law. The heart of the problem lies in finding a way of using the harm principle to formulate reasons for criminalization without extending the scope of the principle in such a way that its limiting effect is lost. I don’t believe this is reason enough to abandon the harm principle completely or in the environmental context; what the principle offers is simply a developed theory of that which is the fundamental basis for all criminal law – the aim of preventing harm. It does, however, indicate a need of finding ways of supplementing the harm principle, since criminalization concerning environmental harm means extending the harm principle in such a way that it loses all of its limiting capacity. The questions of blameworthiness and fair imputation of fault will undoubtedly prove essential to such an endeavor.},
  author       = {Shami, Emilie},
  keyword      = {Straffrätt},
  language     = {swe},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Straffrätten och skada på miljön - En studie av harmprincipens förhållande till kriminalisering på miljöområdet},
  year         = {2011},
}