“Environmental Law Clinic” will help citizens to protect their environment and fight for justice

Arnika (the Czech Republic) and Centre for the Environment (Bosnia and Herzegovina) launched Environmental Law Clinic
Marie Slamova/Arnika

While in the European Union, people are fewer and fewer afraid of politicians and state officials and they are used to defend their rights at the court, citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina still only diffidently demand their rights. That is the impulse for non-governmental organizations Arnika from the Czech Republic and Center for Environment from Bosnia and Herzegovina to launch “Environmental Law Clinic”. Their objective is to educate law students and involve them into civil society campaigns that advocate for better environment.

“In partnership with the Faculty of Law on University of Banja Luka, we are creating a complementary educational course on environmental and administrative law. It will be lead by experienced lawyers both from the Czech Republic and Bosnia. Our aim is to increase currently very limited capacity of legal experts who can support citizens in environmental cases and improve the enforcement of laws as well as work of the entity/state authorities.,” says Viktor Bjelić from Center for Environment.

Within the course, students will not only attend the presentations and intensive educational seminar, but they will also be involved into real cases through internship in Center for Environment and assist the citizens in dealing with environmental cases they will encounter. Five of the best performing interns will have the opportunity to participate in the experience study tour in the Czech Republic.

“We believe that Environmental Law Clinic will help the citizens to become equivalent partners to the state officials, developers and industrial companies. Due to corruption, negligence of the authorities or simply ignorance of the law, the local communities often need support to be able to reach justice,” Martin Skalský from Czech NGO Arnika says.

Environmental Law Clinic is supported by the Transition Promotion Programme of the Czech government. It is a natural continuation to previous activities implemented by Arnika and its partners in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Recently, an on-line map of industrial polluters in Central Bosnia has been developed and analysis of environmental democracy compliance published. Arnika also supports Eko forum Zenica’s campaign to decrease pollution from ArcelorMittal steelworks.

International activities