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|Penalties for environmental crimes may be stiffened|
Taipei, March 20 (CNA) The government is planning to promote amendments to environmental laws to increase the penalty on environmental crimes to better deter such offenses, officials said Monday.
Under the plan, environmental recovery costs will be treated as illicit gains that should be recovered from offenders, Justice Minister Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) said at a news conference held to declare the government's determination to strictly enforce the law to protect the environment.
Chiu said that in many pollution cases, the government needs to spend between NT$10 million to NT$20 million on clean-up efforts in order to restore the environment.
At present, environmental offenders cannot be convicted unless there is evidence proving their acts have caused substantial damage to the environment, he said.
The planned amendments would transfer the responsibility for providing evidence to the offenders, who would need to prove that their acts are not harmful to the public, he said.
In addition, the laws would be revised in such a way that environmental, forestry and food safety officials would be given the power to investigate and collect evidence, he said.
Environmental Protection Administration Minister Lee Ying-yuan (李應元), meanwhile, said that a whistle-blower clause would be added to the laws to encourage the public to report environmental violations.
He said there is a need for the government to step up its efforts to attack environmental crimes, which number 600 to 700 per year in the country.
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