oa Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - The protection of the environment in German criminal law
Administrative laws and powers are rather limited when it comes to the need to protect vital values and basic environmental issues. If the protection of the environment is taken seriously - as it indeed now is in the Federal Republic of Germany - the functional limitations of administrative law require support from the criminal law. While administrative decisions tend to seek a compromise between divergent interests, the criminal law can provide a much clearer protection of interests against serious non-compliance and infractions, thus securing the absolute minimum standards of any social order. Since the Federal Republic is one of the countries with the greatest stress on the environment because of both its intensive economic development and its geographical situation in central Europe, the necessity for complementary criminal measures to protect values of vital importance is both obvious and generally acknowledged. This is a fairly recent development; the actual environmental criminal provisions were incorporated into the Criminal Code by way of the 18th Criminal Law Amendment Act of 28 March 1980. They came into force on 1 July of the same year. This is generally considered to be a great step forward as in certain areas the criminal sanctions as well as regulatory sanctions were taken out of the subsidiary criminal law and the Administrative Infraction Act and incorporated into the basic criminal law.
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