The Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims (CLAPV) hosted its 7th annual Environmental Law Training session in Beijing from October 26 -November 1, 2007. Participants agreed that the experience had significantly increased both their practical and theoretical understanding of environmental law. Specifically, participants learned new skills to bring and hear environmental cases and gained a deeper understanding of the legal basis for claims.
As part of the training, CLAPV introduced several typical environmental cases and moderated small group discussion on them. The ensuing discussion touched on many of the problems in bringing these kinds of lawsuits. This particular dialogue, with a focus on the difficulties involved in solving environmental disputes, is part of an ongoing dialogue CLAPV encourages while working to establish rule of law in China.
Not only does the annual training increase knowledge of environmental law and help foster enthusiasm, it also forms the basis for CLAPVs network of career environmental lawyers. The network has diversified since its inception in 2001 - expanding to Judges in 2002 and environmental protection officials in 2006.
This years training included 39 judges, 25 lawyers and 24 environmental protection officials from all over the country. It was jointly organized by the National Judges Academy, the environmental committee of the Chinese Environmental Science Association, the China University of Politics and Law, and the Natural Resource Defense Council.
The organizers invited a number of experts to give lectures, including Dr. Sun Youhai from the Environmental and Resource Law Committee of the National Peoples Congress, Judge Guan Li from the Supreme Peoples Court, Dr. Bie Tao from the State Environmental Protection Administration, Professor Wang Jin from Peking University, and Professor Wang Canfa from the China University of Politics and Law. CLAPV was also honored to host the Honorable Marsha S. Berzon from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to share her experiences with environmental cases. American and Japanese environmental public interest lawyers, Mr. Stephen P. Berzon and Mr. Nakashima Koji, were also asked to share their experiences.
Lectures topics included current environmental legislation, handling complicated issues in environmental tort litigation, rules of evidence in civil cases, handling environmental disputes, application of environmental standards in litigation, and implementation of environmental laws in China. There were also five case studies on air and water pollution in China.
As Chinas economy expands, worsening pollution and accompanying environmental disputes have started to attract both government and public attention. While environmental law is a burgeoning field of study, few judges, lawyers or environmental officials have received formal training. Consequently, environmental cases are difficult to handle. Lack of knowledge of the law affects pollution victims ability to get fair, timely redress. The broad goal of the annual training sessions is to address this problem.
The CLAPV is a non-governmental environmental protection organization established in October 1998, approved by China University of Political Science & Law, and registered with the Chinese Judicial Ministry. Since November 1, 1999, CLAPOV has provided free legal advice for pollution victims through the legal aid hotline as well as through letters and visits from pollution victims. The Center is managed by professors and associate professors engaged in researching and teaching environmental law from the China University of Political Science and Law.
CLAPVs mission is to organize legal experts, scholars, lawyers, and environmental management and technical experts concerned about environmental protection. The Center focuses on conducting research on environmental legislation and its implementation; promoting international exchange; developing professional training programs on environmental law for the front-line officials engaged in environmental enforcement (including judges and the public); and to popularize public knowledge about environmental law to raise public legal consciousness about environmental protection. CLPAV also offers pollution victims legal assistance to safeguard their environmental rights and interests, thereby promoting enforcement of, and compliance with, Chinese environmental law.
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