Tuesday, November 1, 2005
On Oct. 28, 2005, Song Jian (宋健), the chairman of the China Environmental Protection Association (中华环保联合会), called for the establishment of a system of public interest environmental protection lawsuits. In this system, any citizen, social group, or governmental agency would have standing. What's interesting is the proposed defendant: state judicial organs (国家司法机关). If his remarks were not misreported, it's not clear to me what he has in mind. It would not be surprising for such a system to grant a private right of action against actual polluters, or against the central Environmental Protection Administration or its local branches. But the latter is not normally considered a "judicial organ". Judicial organs such as courts and police would not be involved in environmental law matters until it came time to enforce a fine or other measure against a recalcitrant offender. Does Song contemplate public interest lawsuits only when such enforcement actions are not properly undertaken?