On 7 March 2023, the Seimas Ombudsperson Erika Leonaitė, together with her senior advisor and representatives of the Human Rights Division, participated in a meeting with the President of the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania and judges, who were presented with conducted research on Aarhus Convention and the right to receive information about the environment, to participate in decision-making as well as the right to apply to courts on environmental matters established therein. Moreover, the recommendations addressed to the responsible state institutions and the position of these institutions regarding the implementation of the provided recommendations were presented.
According to the provisions of the Aarhus Convention, Lithuania is obliged to ensure that the requirements for persons seeking to use the right to apply to the courts on environmental matters are acceptable under the Aarhus Convention, i.e. that they are not essentially restricting the right to apply to the courts, but on the contrary, wide opportunities to exercise this right are ensured.
In her presentation of the report, the Seimas Ombudsperson Erika Leonaitė emphasized that the right to approach the courts on environmental issues is an important part of environmental democracy.
However, in Lithuania, it is not properly ensured for the public to have access to relevant, clear and detailed information about the procedures for the implementation of the right to appeal to the courts on environmental issues, which may not only affect the fact that the public has little knowledge about the implementation limits, opportunities and order of the right to appeal to the courts on environmental issues, but also create obstacles to effectively use the rights provided for in the Aarhus Convention.
Participants of the meeting also discussed the recommendation presented in the report to improve legal regulation, in order to clearly define in which cases organizations should be considered as public concerned able to apply to courts on environmental issues.
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Source: Seimas (Parliamentary) Ombudsperson's Office of the Republic of Lithuania