Whittling down pollution

By Tang Yuankai
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Beijing Review, October 28, 2014
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Positive roles

The establishment of special environmental and resource courts will facilitate the appropriate application of relevant laws, standardize judicial adjudication and protect people's environment rights, Sun said. They also help nurture respect for nature and enhance awareness of environmental protection, he said.

Since its inception in 2007, the environment tribunal on average adjudicates about 10 cases every month, Luo Guangqian, head of the Ecological Protection Tribunal of Qingzhen People's Court, told Beijing Youth Daily.

In recent years, it hears on average of approximately 110 cases every year, and so far this year, the tribunal has already heard more than 50 cases, Luo said.

He said that 30 to 40 percent of the cases they handled this year are resource-related criminal cases such as illegal tree felling, farmland occupation and mining.

In addition, they have tried civil cases including public interest cases and cases filed by individuals whose legitimate rights and interests have been infringed upon by polluting companies, he said.

They have also heard administrative cases, most of which involve administrative organizations requesting the court to enforce the punishments they have imposed on polluters, according to Luo.

"In all the public interest litigations we handled, the defendants have won," Luo said. Some of the cases were settled through trials, and some through mediation, he added.

Speaking of the Environment and Resource Tribunal of the SPC, Luo said that its main role is to conduct legal research and guide the work of lower courts, whereas specific cases should still be tried by lower courts.

Luo's points were echoed by professor Lu, who believes that the environmental tribunal of the SPC can guide grassroots environment tribunals by producing more detailed judicial interpretations and publishing typical cases. Right after it was set up, the tribunal published nine typical environmental cases.

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