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Imrich Vozar (left) of Via Iuris visits Short Mountain Landfill in Eugene in 2011

Imrich Vozar (left) of Via Iuris and Maria Rosario Mayi (right) of INSAPROMA visit Short Mountain Landfill in Eugene in 2011

We recently received great news from our Slovak partners at Via Iuris concerning a controversial landfill project in the town of Pezinok.  Community members and municipal officials oppose the project because it is located just about one-quarter mile from the center of their town. Furthermore, the landfill was not proposed for handling local solid waste, but to accept waste produced in other regions of Slovakia and from outside the country.  Pezinok has an excellent recycling program and capacity to handle its own solid waste. The community’s grassroots effort to block the landfill project has gained international attention and recognition.

The Court of Justice of the European Union issued a decision declaring that Slovak state officials improperly withheld key information from community members and municipal officials during the course of the licensing proceeding.  The licensing authority refused to release a copy of the land use decision (a critical document in the licensing proceeding) until after the project developer started construction.  The Court strongly affirmed the right of citizens to participate in environmental decisions early in the process when there are options available and effective public participation can occur. The Court also stated that the licensing authority’s refusal to make the decision public was not justified by protection of commercial or industrial information. The case will now return to the Slovak Supreme Court for further decisions on the fate of the landfill.   The project has been temporarily suspended since 2010, but the European Court’s decision provides some hope that the landfill will be cancelled permanently.

Slovak newspapers reported the optimistic response of Pezinok’s mayor: “The decision of the court fills us with hope that the years-long effort [to achieve] a healthy environment in the town will be successful[.]”   Advocates around Europe are lauding the decision, as well.

Congratulations to our friends at Via Iuris!

Liz Mitchell
Staff Attorney

ELAW welcomes Imrich Vozár, who arrived this week from Slovakia for a 10-day ELAW Fellowship. Imrich is one of six staff lawyers working for VIA IURIS in one of two offices, in Banská Bystrica and Pezinok.

This is Imrich’s first visit to the U.S. He is staying at the ELAW House and enjoying new and interesting things – like spotting a raccoon on the Willamette River bike trail and the possibility of purchasing items, in bulk, at the nearby supermarket.

Imrich will have the chance to explore Oregon’s beauty spots – and grocery stores – and also spend many hours working to advance public participation, transparency in decision-making, and access to information back home.

For example, Imrich is working with colleagues at VIA IURIS to help citizens in Pezinok challenge a proposed landfill which, tragically, would be located just over 400 yards from the center of town.  Read more about this case here.

Imrich is also helping VIA IURIS prepare to participate in the fourth session of the Meeting of the Parties of the Aarhus Convention, to be held in Moldova later this month.  The Arhus Convention is a major international agreement that calls for access to information, public participation in decision-making, and access to justice in environmental matters.

In October last year, VIA IURIS and other NGOs successfully petitioned the Aarhus Committee to find that Slovakia violated Article 6 of the Convention by not allowing sufficient public participation before construction of the Mochovce Nuclear Power Plant.

During his ELAW Fellowship, Imrich will share his expertise, collaborate with ELAW partners around the world, and advance his organization’s work calling for an accountable judiciary, accountable public officials, and responsible citizens in Slovakia.

Welcome Imrich!

Glenn Gillis
Information Technology Manager

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