The International Journal of Restorative Justice

Article

A maximalist approach of restorative justice to address environmental harms and crimes

Analysing the Brumadinho dam collapse in Brazil

Keywords environmental law, maximalist approach, restorative justice principles and concepts, decision-making process, sanctioning rules
Authors Carlos Frederico Da Silva
Author's information

Carlos Frederico Da Silva
Carlos Frederico Braga Da Silva is a PhD researcher associated to the Graduate School of Sociology at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil, and to the Canadian Chair of Legal Traditions and Penal Rationality, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Criminology, University of Ottawa, Canada. He also works as a state judge in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Contact author: carlosfrebrasilva@gmail.com.
  • Abstract

      In this article, the author analyses court cases arising from the rupture of the mining tailings dam in the city of Brumadinho, Brazil, on 25 January 2019. In a civil lawsuit context, legal professionals recognised damage to people and the environment during hearings involving a judge, prosecutors, lawyers and corporate representatives. The centrality of the victims’ interests and the need for remedial measures prevailed in the agreements signed mainly to provide urgent relief and restore damage to the ecosystem. In the criminal lawsuit dealing with the same facts, there have not yet been acquittals, non-prosecution agreements or convictions. By employing a socio-legal approach to contrast different types of legal reasoning, this article explores the possibilities of restorative responses in civil proceedings and explains the lack of them in criminal justice. In highlighting some characteristics of punishment theories that hinder a possible restorative justice approach, the article offers a critique of a penal system mostly linked to argumentative competition rather than persuasive conflict resolution. The author argues that jurisprudence should address transdisciplinary concepts, such as responsive regulation, restorative efforts, proportionality and individualisation of punishment. The discussion can shed light on the decision-making process to allow environmental restorative justice responses to crimes.

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