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China Supreme Court sets up environment tribunal
July 3, 2014, 8:50 am

A man wearing a mask walks past trees shrouded with pollution haze in Beijing, China Thursday, March 27, 2014. Air pollution kills about 7 million people worldwide every year according to a new report from the World Health Organization published Tuesday, March 25. The agency said air pollution triggers about 1 in 8 deaths and has now become the single biggest environmental health risk, ahead of other dangers like second-hand smoke [AP]

A man wearing a mask walks past trees shrouded with pollution haze in Beijing, China Thursday, March 27, 2014. Air pollution kills about 7 million people worldwide every year according to a new report from the World Health Organization published Tuesday, March 25. The agency said air pollution triggers about 1 in 8 deaths and has now become the single biggest environmental health risk, ahead of other dangers like second-hand smoke [AP]

To give legal backing to Beijing’s newly declared war on pollution, the country’s Supreme Court has set up a tribunal for environment cases to better implement the revised environmental protection law, said a court spokesman in Beijing on Thursday.

China Environmental News, published by China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection, said Deng Xuelin had been appointed as the presiding judge of the Environmental and Resources Tribunal of the Supreme People’s Court.

“The tribunal will hear civil cases involving pollution, exploitation of natural resources and conservation of natural environment such as forests and rivers,” said Sun Jungong, Supreme People’s Court (SPC) spokesperson, at a press conference.

It will also hear appeal cases forwarded from lower courts, supervise the trial of environment cases at lower courts and draft judicial explanations about such cases, Sun said.

The SPC, the spokesperson said, expects that the tribunal can “set the standards for trials of environment cases”.

A decades-old growth-at-all-costs economic model has spoiled much of China’s water, skies and soil.

About 134 special environment tribunals have been established at local courts in 16 provincial divisions since the first was founded in southwest China’s Guizhou Province in 2007.

Following the example of the Supreme Court, all provincial high courts will also set up similar institutions, said Zheng Xuelin, chief judge of the tribunal, at the press conference on Thursday.

According to Zheng, environment cases account for a very small proportion of China’s court battles, nearly 30000 out of more than 11 million.

Zheng admitted that it is still difficult for people to file an environment case since courts are held back by technical problems such as lack of practical standards to assess damage, and in some cases interference from local governments backing powerful firms.

China’s top legislature revised the 1989 environmental protection law in April, imposing much harsher punishment on polluters and heavier liability on governments.

 

Source: Agencies

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