Green Crime, human rights and state crime

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  • Created by: Tom
  • Created on: 14-04-14 19:41

Green Crime

  • Beirne and South(2007) - green crime = harms committed by powerful institutions against people, non human animals and their environments. Victims are usually the least powerful.
  • Carrabine et al.(2009) - 'environmental racism' and argued it happens locally and globally.

the environmental harms discusses by Beirne and South include:

  • spoilation and pollution of land, water and air as result of economic exploitation
  • bio-piracy - patenting or theft of natural products and knowledge of them
  • wars that bring people into conflict and damages the lands they live on and use.
  • seizure of local people's lands and property by states and corporations to further their own economic interests(land grabs)
  • acts of cruelty to animals


  • Situ and Emmons(2000) - it is unlikely that states can be considered criminal if their actions are legally sanctioned.
  • Benton(2007), Lynch and Stretesky(2003) - states often fail to enact laws against all relevant harms and, when they do, are not prepared to prosecute and regulate all law breakers. Tax payers are left with the bill for the clean-ups. green crime often crosses international borders so hard to identify offenders and who should prosecute them.
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State crime and human rights

  • Kauzlarich et al.(2003) - state crime involves harm to individuals, groups and property done to preserve the interests of a state or its allies.
  • Green and Ward(2004) - state crimes break international norms on acceptable state action, i.e breaking human rights declarations(Universal Declaration of Human Rights,1948). Criminal state often tries to cover up or deny its actions to avoid internationa consequences.
  • Rummel(1994) - between 1900-1987, 169 million people were killed by their governments.
  • States are respjnsible for a range of other crimes against their people: genocide, war crimes, torture, state terrorism, collusion with gangs, crimes by police, corruption of state officials, state clupability in natural disasters.

recent examples of possible state crimes:

  • Rwanda genoice, 1994
  • 'ethnic cleansing' committed in Bosnian war of 1992-95
  • the use of Extraordinary Rendition by the CIA
  • torture of prisoners by British forces during Mau Mau rebellion in 1960's
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state crime and human rights(cont.)

a range of theories seek to explain how state crimes could occur:


  • states justify harsh actions as being in self-defense or for the protection of the nation's citizens, thereofre they are not criminal.
  • Radical criminologists, such as Marxists criticise acceptance of all state action as legitimate.

Cultural relativists

  • many new post-colonial nations have been unhappy with international acceptance of norms such as the UDHR. They are heavily influenced by Western values and represent Western imperialism.
  • Cultural Relativism protects less powerful states and cultures from being judged by Western standards, but equally protects criminal states from international condemnation and action. Marxists argue cultural relativists do not see the impact of state crimes on marginalised groups. Marginalised are most often the victims of state crime and human rights abuse but are least likely able to affect debates on state criminality. States have huge power to affect the debate, however.
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state crime and human rights(cont.)


  • in the 'real world' states are more committed to self interest than universal morality and law. States commit 'crimes' or human rights abuses because of self-interest, while other states refuse to condemn these actions in order to avoid having to impose sanctions or use military force.


  • men use terror, violence and genocide against women to undermine whole cultural groups.
  • MacKinnon(1994) and Allen(1996) - ***** was used as military policy for genocidal purposes. It led to:
  • the psychological death of the woman, and she would find recovery difficult
  • the social death of the woman, she would be shunned by her community
  • the undermining of social bonds within a group, babies born to ***** women no longer seen as pure members of oppressed group
  • ethnic cleansing, as others in group fled to avoid terror

Feminists raise valueable issues regarding state crimes of genocide and terror. However **** may not be a state crime as much as a male crime. Also increasing evidence that in situations of genocide/terror male suspects are also *****. Fems cannot explain why.

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  • one of the most common forms of state crime
  • carried out by many government officials around the world and seen as a "perk of the job"
  • Zvekic(1998) - being asked for a bribe is the second commonest form of criminal victimisation outside the industrialised world, 17% of people admitted being asked for bribes in the past year.
  • many countries people cannot obtain services such as a car license, passport or medical treatment unless they pay a bribe on top of the official fee.
  • sometimes corruption is the exchange of favours, a practice known as clientelism - MP trying to influence government in return for electoral support
  • many developing nations are kleptocracies in which rulers setal much of their countries income - recent example = former Egyptian leader, Hosni Mubarak.
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