NEWS

Environmental legal victory in Slovenia!

22-04-2020
Category: Natura

Justice and Environment’s member organisation Legal Information Center (PIC http://pic.si/) and DONDES have been successful at the Constitutional Court of Slovenia in the case of a non-constitutional intervention act for the culling of wolves and bears.

The Constitutional Court, on the initiative of PIC and DONDES*, repealed the Act Regulating the Intervention Culling of Specimens of Brown Bear and Common Wolf from the Wild on the grounds of unconstitutionality on April 9th this year.**

“With the decision of the Constitutional Court, which we have been waiting for since July 5, 2019 - the day of filing the constitutional initiative - we can be satisfied from a legal point of view. Success before the court, on one hand, brought about the elimination of the Act, which was interpreted by the Constitutional Court as unconstitutional, specifically because of its incompatibility with the principle of separation of powers from the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia. This decision also offers arguments in support of the importance of the Aarhus Convention in the Slovenian (and European) legal order, especially in the area of ​​access to justice for non-governmental organisations, active in the public interest in the field of environmental protection and nature conservation”, stated PIC.

PIC and DONDES namely have this status, which is granted by the Ministry for the Environment, based on meeting certain regulated conditions. The full judgment is available on this link (http://odlocitve.us-rs.si/documents/ea/0a/u-i-194-193.pdf), the separate opinion of the president of the Constitutional Court, Prof.Dr. Rajko Knez, on this link (http://odlocitve.us-rs.si/documents/ea/0a/u-i-194-19-pritrdilno-lm-dr-knez3.pdf).

The three mail points of the decision: The Court granted legal interest to environmental NGOs with the status of working in public interest in the fields of environment protection and nature conservation, for the first time from a substantive point of view (it has done so before only in matters of public access to environmental information); The Court has, by repealing the act, prevented the legislative branch from performing tasks, which traditionally and constitutionally belong to the executive branch and the judicial branch of the government. To clarify, the legislator adopted an act, which should be adopted by the executive branch (specifically the government/administration) and by doing so also ignored 4 substantive decisions of the Slovenian Administrative court, thus preventing NGOs from actually having an effective legal appeal against the act. The Constitutional court thus appealed the act.

The Court has specifically stressed how to interpret the Aarhus Convention in relation to NGOs with the status of working in public interest and how important the access to justice is for such organisations, thus adding to the legal practice in Slovenia which protects the rights of NGOs to fair legal remedies.

For more information about the legal arguments or other facts you can contact aljosa.petek@pic.si.

Footnotes: *by Decision UI-194 / 19-24 **Official Gazette RS, No. 43/19