Chief Executives whose companies are suspected of violating human rights laws, or being complicit in atrocities, will now be trialled at in the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague – just like war criminals.

The Hague court has announced its plans to widen their preview in relation to corporate crimes – such as the practice of “land grabbing”, by which companies take over large portions of natural lands in order to exploit the natural resources.

Gillian Caldwell, Executive Director at Global Witness, a firm dedicated to exposing the economic networks behind conflict, corruption and environmental abuse, commented on the ruling to “Chasing communities off their land and trashing the environment has become an accepted way of doing business in many resource-rich yet cash-poor countries.

“Company bosses and politicians complicit in violently seizing land, razing tropical forests or poisoning water sources could soon find themselves standing trial in The Hague alongside war criminals and dictators. The ICC’s interest could help improve the lives of millions of people and protect critical ecosystems.”

The ruling comes after reports from Global Witness found that more than three people are murdered every week attempting to defend their land from companies embroiled in “land grabbing”.

However, a number of powerful countries and states are not currently under the jurisdiction of the ICC – such as China, India, Russia, Cuba, the USA, Israel and Sudan.