Billiet, 2012

Carole M. Billiet, Satellite images as evidence for environmental crime in Europe. A judges perspective, in R. Purdy & D. Leung (eds.), Evidence from earth observation satellites. Emerging legal issues, Leiden – Boston, Brill, 2012, 321-355

This paper seeks to sketch the perspective of a judge, more specifically a judge who punishes, on the use of satellite images as evidence for environmental offences. The judge is a European judge, more particularly a Belgian judge. The perspective of a Belgian penalizing court is, to some extent, valid for courts that consider environmental offences elsewhere in Europe. One reason for this, among other, lays in the fact that some crucial procedural and material aspects of the evidence issue are enshrined in human rights conventions, for European countries dominantly the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR, Rome 1950). First, the author explains why the use of satellite images as evidence for environmental offences and with a view to punishment, is no longer a matter that concerns only criminal courts and judges. The issue also has to be considered from the perspective of administrative punishment. Next, the author outlines the legal theory behind the use of evidence with a view to punishment in both the criminal and the administrative penalization track. Subsequently, she focusses on environmental law enforcement. She investigates the potential of satellite images as evidence for environmental offences, identifying specific problems with the use of those images as regards certain types of very commonly used standards (emission and immission standards). She also evaluates the problems that could arise for the admission of satellite images as evidence in court and examines the concrete assessment of this type of evidence by judges. The paper winds up with a conclusion

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