The annual session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China’s prime political advisory body, ended two weeks ago. In this year’s session, a number of CPPCC members made reference to the system of public interest litigations. According to China’s revised Environmental Protection Law, environmental organizations are currently allowed to bring public interest litigation against organizations or companies accused of causing pollution or environmental harm. Procuratorates also have the ability to file public interest lawsuits against any act that compromises public rights and interests in the fields of environmental protection and food and drug safety. Below we have summarized a few of the proposals by CPPCC members related to public interest litigations:
Dong Hengyu (Member of the national committee of CPPCC, Chairperson of Inner Mongolia District Committee of the China Democratic League, vice-chairman of the Inner Mongolia CPPCC)
Dong suggested that the range of public interest litigation should be broadened to areas including food and drug safety, and protecting the interests of disadvantaged people. He suggested that charity organizations should become more active in initiating such litigations, noting that while the law only stipulates four kind of organizations that can carry out public interest litigations, the judicial interpretations of the civil litigations law and of the environmental litigations law appears to adopt a more relaxed attitude towards the question of who has the qualifications to start such a litigation. This leaves space for charities of all kinds to make use of this approach and initiate litigations.
Yu Jinyao: (Member of the national committee of CPPCC, researcher of World History Research of China of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences)
Yu Jinyao focused on the issue of food safety, a topic which is of great concern to the Chinese public. Yu claimed that in spite of the fact that the problem of food safety has been great improved, it has not been completely dealt with because the punishments ate not strict enough. Yu proposed that the public interest litigation system should be made use of for large-scale incidents related to food safety.
Lu Zhongmei: (Member of the national committee of CPPCC, deputy director of the CPPCC social and legal committee)
Lu noted that public interest litigations filed by social organizations only make up 20% of all public interest litigations. He explained that this was due partly to the law still having severe restrictions on the qualifications for initiating such a litigation; but also, social organizations themselves had to improve their capabilities in this field. It is thus of significance to strengthen the construction of their capabilities by setting up incentive methods, such as establishing fund management systems and encouraging social organizations to initiate public interest litigations.