On March 2, 2023, Plataforma CIPÓ launched the Strategic Paper “Operations to combat environmental crimes in the Amazon: challenges and best practices“, authored by researchers Dr. Flávia do Amaral Vieira and Luísa Falcão. The publication analyses environmental crimes investigations led by the Brazilian Federal Police and the Brazilian Federal Prosecution Office (MPF) in the Amazon region, focusing on three complex and high-profile case studies. The paper compiles interviews conducted with officials who are in the frontline (from a law enforcement point of view) of the fight against environmental crimes.
The study highlights that efficient responses to environmental crimes often involve: a strong inter-agency cooperation between relevant public administration bodies, especially environmental monitoring and investigation bodies, law enforcement agencies and tax authorities; the use of new technologies, including satellite image processing; an emphasis on the investigation of financial transactions related to the trade and profits generated from environmental crimes; obtaining evidence to allow perpetrators to respond to the offence of criminal organisation formation (which could result in harsher sentences when compared to crimes against the environment); and international cooperation (involving both producing and importing countries) aimed at building mechanism to achieve supply chains that are free from deforestation and other environmental crimes.
The paper presents a series of recommendations directed at environmental and law enforcement agencies in Brazil. These include:
- Adopting investigative practices to identify the financial transactions related to the trade of products and assets that originate from environmental crimes, in order to hold accountable those who finance and profit from such crimes;
- Promoting international cooperation, especially with relevant authorities in countries that import forest products, to encourage the the development of effective due diligence and traceability mechanisms in supply chains;
- Strengthening whistleblowing mechanisms and ombudsmanships to allow suspicions of corrupt practices involving public officials in environmental and law enforcement agencies to be reported and investigated without risks of retaliation against potential whistleblowers.