the Guizhou Provincial High People’s Court of China held a press conference on Sep 22, 2015, according to its official micro-blog, to (1) make a general introduction of the trials of ecological and environmental protection cases of Guizhou; (2) publicize five typical environmental protection cases of Guizhou; and (3) organize a trial court visit activity.
The deputy chief judge of the environmental protection court and the spokesman of the High Court of Guizhou, Mr. Luo Chaoguo, and Mr. Zhou Yeneng made the introduction. Reporters and Midia were invited. This event was lively reported via the official micro-blog of High People’s Court of Guizhou (Micro-blog’s name is Guizhou Gaoyuan), and was later vastly reported via numerous media, including Xinhua News Guizhou Channel; Guizhou TV; China huanqiu.com, etc. The mostly reported and the most striking part of the press conference is the second part, i.e. the publication of five typical environmental protection cases of Guizhou province.
These five publicized environmental protection cases are:
(1) The environmental pollution case of Zha Zuo government: a township government illegally dumps garbage on the forestland, which constitutes solid wastes pollution. The Qingzhen Court mediates among the parties and finalizes the mediation contract, which clarified the responsibilities of different parties to finish up the cleaning, recovering, and foresting.
(2) The air pollution case of Xidian Longteng Ferroalloy Limited Company: the dust discharge made by the defendant, Xidian Longteng Ferroalloy Limited Company is drastically beyond the approved quota. Settlement Agreement is reached between the People’s Procuratorate of Qingzhen City and the Company. The procuratorate withdraws the prosecution.
(3) The non-performance of duty by the Environmental Protection Bureau (EPB) of Jinsha County: the case that the EPB failed to issue administrative penalty for the delayed payment of noise pollution made by Jiale Construction and Installment Project Limited Company over one year. After mediation by the court, the EPB performed its duty immediately, and the People’s Procuratorate of Jinsha County, i.e. the public interest prosecutor in this case, finally withdraws the case.
(4) Illegally logging and damaging valuable trees case: Aiming at making a profit, the defendant intentionally logs and damages valuable trees with the knowledge that the trees are within the national key protection, which constitutes a serious crime of “illegally logging and damaging valuable trees” of the Criminal Law, and is sentenced to three years of fixed-term imprisonment, with five years suspension, and a fine of five thousand RMB.
(5) Illegally catch aquatic products case: The defendants who violate laws and regulations to protect aquatic products and catch aquatic products with forbidden methods are sentenced from three-month detention to a fine of one thousand RMB respectively, depends on their roles in the case.
China’s new Environmental Protection Law (EPL) was put into effect on January 1, 2015. This new EPL arouses immediate heated discussion nation-wide, and is largely commented as “a real EPL with teeth” due to its strongly worded mandate. Since the promulgation of the new EPL, environmental protection cases become a new and explorative area for the courts of China in various levels. The press conference held by the Guizhou Provincial People’s High Court is a good illustration. However, to me personally, this press conference is more like a demonstration of the achievement of the court, rather than a real good channel for the public to get to know more about the environmental protection trial and cases. The conference would be so much more thought-provoking if other parties, for example, the nongovernmental organizations, lawyers, or citizens who actually brought or are interested in environmental protection cases, are open to attend and can raise questions during the session. But at least, the court holding the press conference and publicizing environmental protection cases is no doubt a good start and a good progress.