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CSOs amplify calls for environmental court

The Zimbabwe Climate Change Coalition has implored the government to set up a tribunal composed of climate change experts who will effectively deal with environmental issues.

This call came during a climate change workshop hosted by Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) recently.

The meeting was attended by various stakeholders inclusive of civil society organisations, climate change experts and legislators.

A representative from the coalition, Justice Zvaita said there are a number of environmental cases that have been reported to the courts but have not yet been attended to.

Zvaita alleged the current members of the bench have limited knowledge on issues which in turn limits the amount of attention granted to environmental issues.

“The type of training that our judges get is one size fits all. They don’t really understand issues of climate change, they don’t give them enough attention. Right now there are several reports we have made with regards to mining, building houses on wetlands and other issues,” said Zvita.

“We have come up with a Climate Change Bill which states that anyone who is caught violating environmental laws must be prosecuted and jailed. We need to have a tribunal or specific courts that solely deal with issues of climate change.”

Nketha Mangoye Dlamini suggested that local authorities need to have experts on environmental issues in their midst so that they may be able to effectively address reports that are presented before them.

Southern Africa Human Rights Watch director Dewa Mavhinga raised concern that there are no laws to protect people who stand up for environmental issues.

Mavhinga said environmental justice activists get arrested or killed while scholars who research on such issues sometimes get slapped with exorbitant lawsuits hence people tend to shy away from the subject.

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