Newcastle Law School

News Item

Third-party intervention submitted to the European Court of Human Rights

On 2 September 2019, the Newcastle Forum for Human Rights & Social Justice – led by Ms Raffaella D’Antonio, Dr Elena Katselli (Co-convenor) and Dr Elena Fasoli (Trento University), the Newcastle Environmental Regulation Research Group - led by Dr Ole Pedersen (Convenor) and Dr Ciara Brennan, and two non-governmental organisations, namely Legambiente, and Let’s Do It! Italy, submitted, after Court permission, a third-party intervention in the case of Di Caprio and others v Italy to the European Court of Human Rights.

The case concerns a complaint against Italy that it has failed to effectively protect the rights protected under the European Convention on Human Rights, including the rights to life and to private and family life as guaranteed under Articles 2 and 8 respectively. This is the result of ongoing environmental pollution caused by tonnes of toxic waste dumped and burned in illegal landfills in Campania, in the south of the country and known as the Land of Fires. Such dumping and burning by criminal organisations has caused serious air and soil contamination which in turn have had, and continue to have, a detrimental impact on health with scientific evidence demonstrating a statistical link between the environmental disaster in Campania and the increased incidence of malformation and cancer mortality in the region.

In their legal opinion, the interveners, led by Ms D’ Antonio, a Doctoral student at Newcastle Law School, argue that the environmental disaster in Campania has been exacerbated by the lack of an effective national legal framework aimed at tackling environmental crimes and by the lack of a precautionary approach in tackling and removing all sources of environmental pollution harmful to human health. Drawing from current developments and debates in contemporary international law concerning the right to a healthy environment, the interveners stress that environmental degradation may have a direct (legal) impact on the enjoyment of rights. To this effect, states may be held responsible for failing to take appropriate action to prevent environmental degradation even in situations, as in this instance, where such degradation is caused by non-state actors.

The intervention aims to assist the Court in identifying the applicable legal principles in determining the issues before it. Amicus Curiae Research Briefing  (PDF: 660KB)

published on: 26 September 2019