The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series
Edited by Paul Martin, Li Zhiping, Qin Tianbao, Anel Du Plessis, Yves Le Bouthillier and Angela Williams
Chapter 6: A Feasible Approach to Environmental Public Interest Litigation: The People’s Procuratorate as Plaintiff
Mei Hong and Yin Yanjie
Mei Hong and Yin Yanjie 6.1 INTRODUCTION Faced with environmental pollution, the environmental administrative organizations in China, such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Maritime Authority, are able to exercise their executive power. The people’s procuratorates,1 as state organs of legal supervision, are entitled to supervise the environmental administrative organizations’ performance of their duties; and to institute criminal and civil litigation against the polluters. For many years, to better safeguard the environmental public interest, local prosecutorial organizations in China have supported the use of environmental public interest litigation in addition to criminal prosecution. In most instances, these actions have been supported or initiated by the people’s procuratorates. This chapter looks at this practice, considers its legitimacy, and proposes reforms to ensure its more effective application. A number of examples have illustrated the use of environmental public interest litigation, all of them civil actions instituted by the people’s procuratorates. We discuss later public interest proceedings that have been initiated in Hunan province, Guangdong province, Jiangxi province, and Jiangsu province. Such public interest trials have dealt powerful blows against illegal actions that damage the environmental public interest. In part such actions make up for deficiencies in China’s prosecutorial system concerning environmental crimes. However, these separate and partial practices are local and occasional. They represent minor breakthroughs, without systemic improvement in the overall prosecution system. 6.2 BASIS OF PEOPLE’S PROCURATORATES’ ENVIRONMENTAL PUBLIC GOOD LITIGATION Environmental protection is one of China’s modern basic state policies.2 Special administrative organizations such as the Environmental...
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