Judge Pongdej Vanitkijtihul of the Supreme Court Office explained
that an environmental court is needed in the country for several
reasons. For one thing, environmental pollution brings damages to
natural resources which are the property of everyone.
true to say that only people in the area of the Mae Moh power plants
are affected by their emissions. Actually, the public in general
is also affected." "Sometimes, the repercussions (from
environmental damage) don't show right away. Sometimes it takes
two or five years, or more," he said.
court case also requires input from experts in various scientific
fields, he said. This is especially true because the burden of proof
is on the affected people's shoulders. They should be able to call
on the technical knowledge of others.
Pongdej said that actually there is a mechanism currently in place
for people to receive a trial before a special legal panel affiliated
with the Supreme Court and presided over by a judge who has expertise
in environmental matters. The process is cumbersome, however; first
the plaintiff would have to go through the Administrative Court,
and then through an appellate court, and has never been employed.
Pongdej envisions a future in which access to the special panel
will be granted whenever it is warranted. He also said that in the
near future the members of the jury may need to visit the sites
of alleged environmental damage.