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Discussion Group 2

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Theme 7: Appeals [#3287]
Dear Forum Participant,

Welcome to Theme 7 on "Appeals".

We welcome you to answer the guiding questions listed below.

1. Is an appeals system in place that members of the public can use if they consider biosafety information to be unjustifiably withheld or otherwise not made available?

2. What government agencies and/or independent bodies are responsible for handling public appeals against denial of access to biosafety information?

3. Is there a system to protect those seeking appeals from being penalized, persecuted or harassed?

4. Does the government make resources available to enable public to appeal when information is wrongly withheld, or otherwise not made available?

Best regards,

Ulrika Nilsson
(edited on 2012-05-24 22:07 UTC by Ulrika Nilsson)
posted on 2012-05-24 17:30 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety
RE: Theme 7: Appeals [#3532]
7. Appeal
The right of citizens for appeal against decision is done by national legislation. Generally, terms and procedures are given (e.g. 15 days from tha date of receiving decision, body receiving appeal decides within 15 days etc.)

Milena Roudna
posted on 2012-06-11 15:32 UTC by Ph.D. Milena Roudna, Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic
RE: Theme 7: Appeals [#3546]
Laws and regulations that regulate the right of persons to information about the environment state that any person who thinks that his request to get environmental information was not considered or was considered improperly shall be entitled to apply to the Administrative Disputes Commission or court.
It should be noted that, pursuant to the national provisions, a person shall have the right to apply, first of all, to the Administrative Disputes Commission, and – only if he/she disagrees with the decision of the said Administrative Disputes Commission – to court. Such legal regulation is established in order to ensure that the person has access to an expeditious procedure established by law that is free of charge or inexpensive for review by an independent and impartial body other than a court.
Pursuant to Article 13 of the Law of the Republic of Lithuania on Administrative Disputes Commissions, complaints (applications) lodged with the Administrative Disputes Commission must be considered and a decision thereon must be taken within 14 days after the receipt thereof; no duties (including stamp duty, etc.) shall be charged when lodging a complaint with the Administrative Disputes Commission; decisions of Administrative Disputes Commissions shall be reasoned. Where a person disagrees with the decision of the Administrative Disputes Commission, he/she shall have the right to appeal such decision to court.

Respectfully,
Gintare Blazauskiene (NFP)
Genetically Modified Organisms Division
Nature Protection Department
The Ministry of Environment of Lithuania
posted on 2012-06-12 08:10 UTC by Mrs. Gintarė Blažauskienė, Ministry of Environment
RE: Theme 7: Appeals [#3549]
1. Is an appeals system in place that members of the public can use if they consider biosafety information to be unjustifiably withheld or otherwise not made available?

Where a request for biosafety information has been refused and unjustifiably withheld, the administrative law provisions of the South African law comes into play and we have to utilise those provisions and not the appeal system established in terms of the GMO Act. The appeal system that has been established in terms of the GMO Act, is in respect of situations where a permit has been refused or granted, then the applicant or any objector aggrieved by the decision may appeal against the decision to the Minister. In this event, the Minister is required to establish an appeal board. Where information is unreasonably withheld, one would have to request the reasons for the refusal to provide the information and then one has to use the general appeals provisions in general access to information type legislation to appeal against both the merits of the decision as well as the procedural grounds, known as a wide appeal. Interested and Affected parties can also challenge decisions by applying to the High Court for a judicial review. Such reviews are limited to procedural aspects or legality of an administrative decision.


2. What government agencies and/or independent bodies are responsible for handling public appeals against denial of access to biosafety information?

see above.

3. Is there a system to protect those seeking appeals from being penalized, persecuted or harassed?

There is an important provision in the National Environmental Management Act to protect public interest groups from the chill effect of adverse costs orders. The Act provides that if an action is brought in the interests of the environment, the person bringing such action can be excused from paying the costs of the opposing party, in the event of the action not being successful. This is an extremely important provision and can go a long way towards ensuring protection for public interest groups. There is no special law to protect the public from reprisals in the event of instituting an appeal. General criminal law provisions will normally apply.

4. Does the government make resources available to enable public to appeal when information is wrongly withheld, or otherwise not made available?

No, it does not. The public has to find its own resources. Litigation is rather expensive. Public interest groups will have to find legal aid from the private or non profit sector.
posted on 2012-06-12 13:25 UTC by Mariam Mayet
RE: Theme 7: Appeals [#3561]
1. In my country, any individual can seize the constitutional Court if it judges that information on the biosafety is wrongfully described as confidential.  The decision which will be returned by the constitutional Court is without call and is essential on all the parts. 

2. It is the constitutional Court which is the body which can know of this type of Dispute because article 27 of the Constitution guarantees to all Beninese a healthy environment.

3. It is the system of separation of the capacities: legislative power, judicial power and executive power which ensures this protection.  In other words it is the democratic system which guarantees this right. 

4. No resource is ensured by the government because the citizen needs to seize the Constitutional Court which has the obligation to rule without expenses. 

KAKPO Comlan Marcel
Benin NFP of PCB and BCH
posted on 2012-06-13 09:10 UTC by Mr. Comlan Marcel KAKPO, Ministère de l'Environnement, de l'Habitat et de l'Urbanisme
RE: Theme 7: Appeals [#3602]
1. Is an appeals system in place that members of the public can use if they consider biosafety information to be unjustifiably withheld or otherwise not made available?
        Yes, an appeal system is in place if somebody considers that biosafety information is unjustifiably withheld or not made available.

2. What government agencies and/or independent bodies are responsible for handling public appeals against denial of access to biosafety information?
        The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Ministry of Health are responsible for providing reliable biosafety information to public and consideration of public appeals on that issue. If any member of the public decides that consideration of his/her appeal was insufficient he/she can apply to court.          

3. Is there a system to protect those seeking appeals from being penalized, persecuted or harassed?
          Yes, there is. The Constitution and the legislative system of the Republic of Belarus protect the citizens’ rights to get reliable biosafety information.

4. Does the government make resources available to enable public to appeal when information is wrongly withheld, or otherwise not made available?
         Yes, the government made resources available to enable public to appeal when biosafety information was wrongly withheld or not made available. For example, the Committee of the Governmental Control is authorized to solve problems in regard to claims which had not been solved by ministries or other governmental bodies.

BCH NFP Elena Makeyeva, Belarus
posted on 2012-06-16 13:36 UTC by Assoc. Prof. Elena Makeyeva, Belarus
RE: Theme 7: Appeals [#3623]
In Moldova the common rules are applied for appeals to justice when denying information related access to the environmental information. 
The Administrative and contravention codes stipulates general rules and taxation for damage for the environment and also for denying of information.
The national Law on public access to the information Nr. 982 of 2000 is in accordance with provisions of Aarhus Convention and stipulates requirements for public information.
posted on 2012-06-18 11:31 UTC by Angela Lozan
RE: Theme 7: Appeals [#3628]
Posted on behalf of Mr. Bather Kone, Mali:

I will reply from a continental perspective since I am not participating for my country, and I have global response.

Nowing the power of the International Companies we have proposed a provision in the African Model Law to protect any claimant (individual or group, state organization of private) who fails in his claim again such companies.
posted on 2012-06-18 15:43 UTC by Ms. Ulrika Nilsson, UNEP/SCBD/Biosafety