Opinion / From the Press

Protect environment by allowing public litigation

By Li Yang (chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2014-04-18 17:48

Lawmakers should feel the urgency of passing an effective Environmental Protection Law in China, which should entitle people and social organizations the right to launch public interest litigation against polluters, says an article in Southern Metropolis Daily. Excerpts:

Chinese lawmakers will review the fourth draft of the Environmental Protection Law next week. Obviously, there is much controversy surrounding the law, a key to the country’s environmental protection cause.

The current Environmental Protection Law was enacted in 1989. It is said to be a law with the worst implementation in modern China and, over the past three years, there have been three unsuccessful attempts to amend the law.

The smog being experienced across the nation and serious pollution in other fields make people pay more attention to this fourth review of the law.

The crucial point is that the new law should entitle people and social organizations to launch public interest litigations against polluters in environmental pollution cases.

The third draft of the law even gave such rights exclusively to a government-sponsored organization, which consists of senior executives of some powerful polluting enterprises.

Because individual citizens and social organizations do not have the right to sue polluters in the public interest, the dozens of environmental protection courts in China have almost no cases to process. Ironically, environmental pollution continues to worsen in the country.

Lawmakers should make it easier for people to defend their legal rights through legal channels, and more difficult for polluters to evade punishment.

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