China's top court to clarify biodiversity protection laws
Workers clean up a section of the Qingliu River, a tributary of the Yangtze River, in Neijiang, Southwest China's Sichuan province, July 7, 2021. [Photo/IC]
China's top court will formulate guidelines and accelerate the issuance of judicial interpretations on biodiversity protection as soon as possible to ensure relevant cases can be solved more efficiently.
Yang Linping, vice-president of the Supreme People's Court, released the plan at a news conference on Friday while detailing how Chinese courts handled biodiversity-related disputes in recent years, referring to seven influential cases in this regard.
"The judicial interpretations will mainly focus on stopping pollution and reducing damages to the environment in a timely manner. A ban order will be issued as well as punitive compensation to polluters to help solve civil disputes involving forest ownership."
"A white paper on protecting biodiversity by rule of law will also be issued," she added.
Highlighting the importance of a principle - safeguarding and improving environment and ecology - in the Constitution, she noted that focusing on biodiversity protection effectively implements the fundamental law, upholds Xi Jinping Thought on Ecological Civilization and also meets people's increasing demand for the environment.
Yang said Chinese courts have strengthened legal support for biodiversity in several areas over the past few years, such as strictly fighting crimes on rare and endangered wildlife and their products and increasing preventive measures to ensure environmental restoration.
Since 2019, courts at each level have concluded a total of 66,852 cases involving biodiversity, including those on protection and quarantine of wild animals and plants as well as on new varieties of plants, Yang said.
"We've given harsher criminal punishments as a bigger threat to those who damage biodiversity," she added. "We've also intensified biodiversity protection through public-interest litigation."
Guo Feng, deputy head of the top court's research office, said the seven cases detailed on Friday illustrate judicial determination against biodiversity-related violations and crimes, "and they'll also help guide courts nationwide to unify standards in relevant case hearings and further uphold justice."
To carry out the Yangtze River Protection Law, which has been in effect since March 1, Liu Zhumei, chief judge of the top court's adjudication tribunal for environment and resources, also called for courts across the country to harshly punish people for illegal fishing, illegally cutting down trees and illegally mining sands around the basin.
Liu added: "The best implementation of the law is to protect the river's ecological system and safeguard biodiversity in the area."