UNDP Assists in First Public Interest Litigation Case on Release of Information
In a major breakthrough of promoting government information disclosure and transparency in China through judicial review in China, UNDP-supported All-China Environment Federation (ACEF) have successfully won the first public interest lawsuit of its kind in China. The case was build on the failure of the Xiuwen County Environment Protection Bureau to release information requested by the ACEF concerning the Guizhou Haoyiduo Dietary Company, including its waste water discharge permit, the number and locations of waste water outlets, type and quantity of pollutants, standard of sewage charges approved by the local environmental organs, and monitoring and penalties imposed by local environmental organs. Having requested the information on 28 October 2011, and again on 24 November 2011, without reply within the 15 day legal response period, a case was lodged with the Guiyang Qingzhen Environmental Tribunal on 12 December 2011. The case was subsequently opened to the public with the Tribunal rule in favour of the ACEF and ordered the Bureau to release the information within 10 days.
The case marks a real and significant step in promoting freedom of information and local government reform through judicial review in China. It is also a milestone in government administration and legal redress, enabling Civil Society Organisations to protect citizens' right to obtain information about their environment for the very first time.