The Minister of Spatial Planning, Civil Engineering and Ecology of the Republic of Srpska, Srebrenka Golic and the Director of the Police of the Republic of Srpska, Gojko Vasic, opened today a two-day workshop “Environmental Crime- Current Threats and Upcoming Challenges” organized by the Ministry of the Interior in cooperation with the Technical Assistance and Information Exchange instrument - TAIEX.
Minister Golic emphasized that changes of the RS Criminal Code must incorporate the relevant EU Directive on environmental protection which precisely sets the elements of such criminal offences. “Last year, we introduced the Law on Waste Disposal in which we incorporated all relevant EU Directives, the Law on Nature Protection and the Law on Air Protection and at the same time we keep following the EU Regulations so that we could align our legislation accordingly”, Minister Golic said and stressed that those laws prescribe only sanctions for misdemeanor and not criminal sanctions.
Moreover, the Minister informed the participants of the Conference that the RS Ministry for Spatial Planning and Ecology in cooperation with the Regional Environment Center launched the “Temis 2 Project” which would include various partners from the area of former Yugoslavia. “We would include judges, prosecutors, inspectorates, border police and relevant ministries”, Minister Golic said and referred to several recent cases of improper waste disposal. She particularly referred to the case of waste from leather factory in Visoko which had been disposed at several locations in the municipality of Pale and classified as dangerous waste and also referred to the case of hazardous medical waste which had been imported by the “Pramed plast” company from Derventa as packaging material.
„The question is raised with regard to the responsibility of the border services and shipping companies since none of BiH institutions established that it was hazardous waste“, Minister Golic said and added that the waste had been shipped back to Croatia as the country of origin.
Minister Golic reminded about the fact that the Republic of Srpska had no plant for dangerous waste disposal and that according to domestic legislation such waste cannot therefore be disposed on its territory but only in the countries which have such a plant.
RS Police Director Gojko Vasic stated that ecological crime was a part of grey crime zone and that situation with regard to sanctioning of such offences was not satisfactory. Mr. Vasic pointed out that during the last war in BiH many diseases which had been exterminated in former Yugoslavia reappeared through donations and that illegal logging and unselective cutting of forests during the war and post-war period led to many ecological problems.
According to the RS Director of Police special problem is the issue of importing dangerous materials, rising doubts that radioactive waste was stored in the country during the war while later there was the issue of medical waste. „Those are pre-conditions for spreading the disease such as cholera“, Mr. Vasic said and added that another problem was related to depleted uranium missiles which NATO used for air strikes on the Republic of Srpska.
The objective of this workshop is to introduce the EU legal framework within the field of environmental crime, to identify new forms of crime in this area, including threats and challenges, and to improve institutional capacities in the field of environmental protection. During the workshop, the methods of investigation and prosecution, cooperation between police, prosecutors and non-governmental organizations would be presented in preventing and combating environmental crime, as well as the experience of the EU member states in this area.
Lecturers at this workshop are experts from the European Union countries, Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Netherlands and Spain.