Kuala Lumpur: Calling environmental crime a threat to man`s existence, Malaysian authorities have decided to set up "environmental courts".
"A court dedicated to handling environmental issues was important as 60 per cent of Malaysia was covered in forests," said Chief Justice Tan Sri Arifin Zakaria, adding there should be an end to the lack of sensitivity to such crimes.
"The judiciary would provide more training to its judges and officers on environmental law," said Zakaria.
Similar courts and tribunals had been set up in neighbouring countries in tandem with the Johannesburg Principles on the Rule of Law and Sustainable Development, which was adopted by 60 countries, in 2002, he said.
The Johannesburg Principles affirmed that an independent judiciary and judicial process were vital for the implementation, development and enforcement of environmental law, said Zakaria.
He called environmental crime a threat to man`s existence and added that the judiciary needed to be serious in protecting mother earth.
Meanwhile, the World Wide Fund for Nature-Malaysia – a national, non-profit organisation that works to conserve nature and the protection of the environment -- has welcomed the proposal to set up "environmental courts" in the country, saying it had been a long time advocate for a robust framework to protect the environment.
"The proposed establishment of a specialised court would go a long way in ensuring strict implementation, enforcement and compliance of environmental laws and policies," said WWF-Malaysia executive director and chief executive officer Dionysius Sharma.
"We are certainly encouraged by Chief Justice Tan Sri Arifin Zakaria`s outlook that environmental issues must be prioritised," he said.