Environmental prosecutor: a first step towards environmental accountability in Lebanon

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Source: MintPress News

Residents of Iqlim al Kharoub in the South of Lebanon have accused truck drivers of disposing waste from Beirut along the roadsides of various towns of North of Sidon and causing adverse impacts to the environment. The towns of Jadra, Jiyyeh, Rmeileh, Wardanieh, Sibline, and Barja claim to have been facing this problem for a while but lack of accountability is preventing a solution. The affected municipalities are therefore filing a lawsuit with the public prosecutor in hope that the perpetrators will be stopped.

The problem of waste in Lebanon has plagued many towns and cities throughout the country andauthoritiesare yet to find a solution to the many issues, such as the Naame Landfill. Other environmental violations include industries dumping waste in Lebanon without any restrictions,illegal quaries, authorities powerless in stopping thecutting of trees, and many others. The common denominator seems to be the lack of enforcement, despite the enactment of laws that address these issues like this. For example, Law 444 of 2002 (Environmental Protection Law) stresses the Polluter Pays Principle. Article 2 sets the framework to institutionalize the general prosecutor for the environment. This prosecutor would be responsible for regulating environmental crimes relating to forests, protected areas, biodiversity, air quality, water, soil, noise, quarries, classified establishments, municipal commons, government estates and international waters. Despite this legal framework, the situation on the ground still has a long way to go.

On Tuesday a significant and positive step towards implementing environmental law occurred, whereby the Ministries of Justice and Environment have signed a memorandum of cooperation between them. The memorandum of cooperation will cover pollution, hunting, waste landfills and other issues. The Justice Ministry will appoint two environmental prosecutors to overlook violations to the environment.Hopefully this will be the beginning of a new era of environmental accountability in Lebanon.

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