ECO-TERRORISM OR PRO-ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME – THEORETICAL AND PRACTICAL DILEMMAS
Keywords:ecology, terrorism, crime, eco-terrorism, pro-environmental crime, environmental protection, direct action
This paper analyzes the problem of illegal environmental activism, with particular emphasis on its potential terrorist characteristics. Through several thematic chapters it is discussed about: concept and characteristics of terrorism, on the one hand and the ambiguity of "environmental terrorism", on the other hand; techniques and methods of implementing the radical eco-activism; manifestations and practical examples of ecologically motivated criminal acts. Inside the final chapter author analyses the relation between „classic“ terrorism and „eco-terrorism“. It is noted that environmentally motivated criminal activity has elements in common with the phenomenon of terrorism, but that among them there are very significant differences as well. Some of the most notable similarities are: strong ideological motivation behind comitted crimes; general lack of „pragmatic“ motives (lucrative, personal or any others connected with direct private benefits for the perpetrator); relativisation of the relationship between law and justice (the idea of „higher purpose“ which is „above the law“); compatibility between certain means of committing crimes (mainly concerning the use of explosive devices); unpredictability of particular extremist acts. On the other hand, the biggest differences are: nature of the object of legal protection (in case of terrorism, usual targets are human life, health or safety, while pro-ecological crimes are focused on saving natural environment, as well as on causing economical damage, without endangering humans); general lack of widespread fear among the majority of population in case of eco-criminal acts; difference regarding modus operandi (except the aforementioned usage of certain type of explosive devices). Author also points to the terminology-based shortcomings of usage of the term „terrorism“ regarding the ecological criminal activism, underlining the meaning and origin of the term „terrorism“, as well as the ambiguity of the word „eco-terrorism“. It is suggested to avoid the use of the term „eco-terrorism“ for the totallity of ecologically motivated illegal actc. Instead of that, usage of the aforementioned term (although still highly questionable) could be partly justified for the purpose of defining just the narrow section of particularly extreme criminal operations of eco-activists, although in a terminologically modified form as "pro-environment terrorism". As the most appropriate term for general category of all criminal acts related to ecological activism, author proposes new category: "pro-environmental crime."
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