The right to address environmental issues in the Court in the attention of judges and administrative lawyers

November 10, 2017 | By Loreta Hysa

Albania and the countries of the region are faced with increased pressures from the public and civil society, who have raised their voice on many investments that are assessed to have negative impact on the environment.

In the last two years, it’s been noticed a maturity of environmental civil society and community organizations that have brought to the court several issues such as investments for hydro power installations in rivers and streams, based on gaps in information and public participation in decision-making.

Cases such as investments in Vjosa and Valbona have also attracted international attention. On the other hand, the decision-making of the judiciary has sparked a series of protests by affected communities.

The Aarhus Convention and its three main pillars:  the right to receive information, the right to public participation and the right to address the court, were the focus of the two-day training organized by the Regional Environmental Center (REC) on November 9-10, 2017, in Tirana, Albania.

The training brought together judges and legal experts from Albania and Kosovo, being an opportunity to better understand the requirements of the Aarhus Convention to address the court in accordance with EU directives and relevant national legislation.

"The implementation of the Aarhus Convention is a complete expression of the application of the principles of democracy. The region could use it as a good indicator of the development of the judicial system and the maturity of civil society"- said Mr. Mihallaq Qirjo, Director of REC Albania.

The meeting was also greeted by Mr. Xhezair Zaganjori, President of the High Court in Albania; Mr. Sokol Sadushi, Director of the School of Magistrates in Albania; Mr. Valon Kurtaj, Director of the Kosovo Academy of Justice; Mrs. Ornela Çuçi, Deputy Minister of Tourism and Environment in Albania.

"Environmental issues have not only taken a local and national dimension. Climate change has extended the environmental debate around the globe, stressing the obligations that each country has to fulfill in international environmental agreements " - said Mr. Zaganjori.

Mrs. Çuçi focused on the greatest role the public should have in addition to law enforcement institutions in denouncing and punishing environmental crime.

During the two days of training, Jerzy Jendroska and Albanian expert Mr. Erjon Muharremaj, brought to the participants concrete case studies and demonstrative court cases to show the most problematic aspects regarding the right to address the court on environmental matters.

The training served as an interactive platform to exchange experiences, giving a more detailed view of steps to access the right to address the curt in European Union and other countries, addressing the greatest difficulties and shortcomings in the implementation of the process and solutions to the reduction or removal of barriers to the exercise of the right to address the court.

This training is part of a series of regional trainings being organized in Central and Eastern European countries, the Caucasus and Central Asia as well as in the neighboring European Union countries, with the supervision of the German Environment Agency (UBA) under the Program of the Environmental Protection Advisory Assistance (AAP) of the Ministry of Environment in the Federal Republic of Germany.

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