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Environmental and resource protection cases rise

By Yang Zekun | | Updated: 2023-06-05 21:21
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Procuratorates have tightened supervision of environmental and natural resources protection, with 65,716 people arrested and 229,751 people prosecuted for crimes against the environment and the protection of resources between 2018 and 2022, according to a white paper issued by the Supreme People's Procuratorate on Monday.

The number of people reviewed for arrest and prosecution for these types of crimes also increased over the past five years, the white paper added.

Crimes against the environment and the protection of resources fall into six main categories: environmental pollution, illegal fishing, illegal mining, illegal occupation of agricultural land, illegal hunting, and deforestation. About 81 percent of cases were related to these six kinds of crime during the period, according to the white paper.

The illegal disposal of imported solid waste and destructive mining are sporadic crimes, with less than ten cases every year, and there were no cases of the unauthorized import of solid waste during the past five years.

In addition, procuratorates handled 394,894 public interest litigation cases related to environmental and resource protection.

The scale of public interest litigation has increased year by year. Prosecutors handled 94,923 cases in 2022, about 60 percent more than in 2018, according to the white paper.

Between 2018 and 2022, the proportion of environmental and resource-related public interest litigation cases remained around 50 percent of the total number of public interest litigation cases.

The elements involved in environmental and resource protection cases are becoming more diverse. Apart from traditional issues related to air, water and soil, issues involving rare birds, endangered plants, wetlands, nature reserves, cultural relics and natural relics are also now under legal protection, it said.

Zhang Xueqiao, deputy prosecutor-general of the SPP, said that the court has organized a number of environment and resources protection operations, listed and supervised the handling of major complex cases to ensure that criminal cases are punished, and loopholes in industrial supervision are properly addressed.

Procuratorates have explored the establishment of cross-regional cooperation mechanisms that respond to local environmental characteristics in river basins that now cover 90 percent of the country, improving the supervision and coordinating the governance of river basins, he said.

"Procuratorial organs have also strengthened cooperation with public security, courts and administrative departments, enhancing the converging effect of serving the environment," he said.

Zhang said that in the past five years, procuratorates have also issued procuratorial suggestions on social governance concerning common and emerging problems found in the handling of the environmental and resource cases to promote their protection.

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