Chief justices and senior members of judiciaries from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries discussed ways to step up their cooperation in addressing environmental challenges at a roundtable that opened in Hanoi on December 13.

The fourth ASEAN Chief Justices’ Roundtable on the Role of the Judiciary in Environmental Protection is co-organised by the Supreme People’s Court of Vietnam and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Chief Judge of the Supreme People’s Court of Vietnam Truong Hoa Binh said environmental pollution and its consequences are at an alarming level in many countries worldwide.

Given this, environmental protection has become an urgent need that requires the participation of all nations across the world, he said, noting that judiciaries are proving their role in this field.

The Chief Judge informed the meeting that Vietnam’s 2013 Constitution contains many provisions on environmental protection, and the Law on Environmental Protection adopted in 2014 also has many new stipulations compared to the 2005 version, serving as an important legal tool in conserving the environment and striving for sustainable development.

Aware of their role, Vietnamese judiciary has worked to improve their knowledge and skills in handling environment-related cases, he said, citing the establishment of a group of judges in charge of environment in the Supreme People’s Court.

Vietnam has also sent judges to international forums to learn from foreign countries’ experience in adjudicating environment-related cases, Binh said.

During the two-day event, the participants will focus their discussion on cooperation in environment-related issues among ASEAN’s national courts, the Jakarta Common Vision on Environment for ASEAN Judiciaries and the Hanoi Plan of Action.

They will also look at how to ensure rights of locals while protecting the environment and a range of issues such as deforestation and the trafficking of timber and wildlife.-VNA