In the theory on the usefulness of criminal sanctions several reasons are advanced why environmental pollution should be criminalised. One of the arguments is that the severe sanctions offered by the criminal law are also used to protect classic interests such as property, health and honour. These were the values that were protected by the criminal law in most of the penal codes that were enacted in the last century. The argument can indeed be made that given the deteriorating state of the environment in many industrialised countries, a clean environment is nowadays at least as important as the other just‐mentioned values that were previously protected by the criminal law. Hence, if the criminal law is used to protect these classic individual values it should also be used to protect environmental interests. Indeed, most of these individual values (such as health and property) cannot even be enjoyed if the basic requirements concerning a clean environment have not been met.
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