Legal authorities publish reference cases for environmental protection

(     Updated : 2023-08-17


Wind turbines in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province, slowly turn with the help of sea breezes and generate green electricity for places across the country on July 2. [YAO FENG/FOR CHINA DAILY]

With the disclosure of several influential public-interest lawsuits involving the environment, China's top judicial authorities said these have played a key role in environmental conservation, calling for prosecutors and judges to continue to promote an ecological civilization.

The Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate jointly published 10 environmental public-interest cases on Tuesday, which was the country's first National Ecology Day.

The cases are not only related to the protection of basins, grasslands and forests, but also involve the pollution of solid waste, air and water.

"These diverse cases have shown public-interest litigation has covered all areas of the environment and ecology, with contribution to maintaining national biosecurity," the SPC said, adding they could be taken as reference for courts.

Prosecutors can file lawsuits against poorly performing government agencies or businesses, according to 2017 revisions to both the Administrative Procedure Law and the Civil Procedure Law.

At first, prosecutors could only initiate public-interest litigation in four categories — environmental conservation, food and drug safety, State-asset preservation and land-rights transfers.

Since 2018, prosecutors have also been allowed to initiate public-interest litigation in a few other fields, such as the protection of the rights of heroes and martyrs, juveniles, personal information, telecom fraud, monopolies and the quality and safety of agricultural products.

Before litigation, the Administrative Procedure Law requires prosecutors to send suggestions to poorly performing departments.

The SPC and SPP said in a statement on Tuesday 98.9 percent of these suggestions made since 2018 could be accepted by government departments.