Public Defender Files Amicus Curiae Brief with Court regarding Lawsuit on Air Pollution
Atmospheric air pollution is one of the most important challenges facing both the world and Georgia, which poses a serious threat to public health. Given the risks associated with air pollution, a well-adapted approach has been developed around the world to address issues such as effectiveness of the existing air defence legislation and the need to provide better guarantees for the protection of the right to live in a healthy environment. The European Court of Human Rights has also developed significant practice in cases of human rights violations caused by the emission of harmful substances into the ambient air.
A dispute on the issue is currently ongoing in Tbilisi City Court as well. The plaintiffs are seeking compensation from the Georgian Ministry of Environment and Agriculture and the Environmental Supervision Department for the damages caused by the failure to take effective measures to prevent emissions from the factories in the city of Rustavi.
It is noteworthy that the Public Defender of Georgia, recently, has been actively monitoring the problems identified in the country in terms of air pollution and from 2017 she has been reflecting her findings in the parliamentary reports. In addition, due to the urgency and complexity of the issue, the state of atmospheric air protection was assessed in detail in the 2019 Special Report of the Public Defender on the Right to Clean Air (Quality of Ambient Air in Georgia). Accordingly, the Public Defender considered that the sharing of information about the experience accumulated in the Office would assist the Court in the proper resolution of the above-mentioned dispute, and on 21 April 2022, she filed an amicus curiae brief.
In the document, the Public Defender reviewed the national legislation regulating the right to clean air, the current situation of air pollution and its associated consequences, as well as the standards set by the case law for the full realization of the right. As a result, it was noted in the document that for the purposes of resolving the case, it was important for Tbilisi City Court to assess the impact of air pollution in Rustavi not only on the plaintiffs' health but also on the quality of their life. In addition, the Court should assess how effectively the current legislation and their enforcement mechanisms reduce air pollution.
Given that the decision in this case will be a judicial precedent for establishing a good standard for the realization of the right to live in a healthy environment, the Public Defender hopes that the amicus curiae brief will help the Court to properly assess the issue.