VI. MONITORING AND ENFORCEMENT
The discussion above indicates that enforcement of the environmental and health laws of Fiji have is generally weak. Certain provisions under the Sustainable Development Bill are likely to improve the situation.
It is explicitly stated in the Bill that the Department of Environment is not envisaged as becoming a United States of America-style Environmental Protection Agency with complete in-house expertise and capability to undertake all environmental management measures (EIAs, pollution monitoring, audits etc.). That would require a major resource allocation and expansion in terms of personnel and finance. The government simply does not have the ability to commit such resources. Those functions will continue to be undertaken by relevant ministries/departments, although increasingly by local authorities and, where necessary, the private sector. The Department of the Environment will only be required to coordinate and monitor the enforcement of the law.
To undertake the development, monitoring and enforcement of environmental standards and codes of practice, and to oversee self-monitoring by industry, the Act provides for the establishment of a Standards, Monitoring and Enforcement Unit within the Department of the Environment. However, the responsibility for actually enforcing the law will lie with the ministry/agency/ local authority. The agencies will need to consult with the Department of the Environment on taking appropriate measures to control any activity that poses a risk to public health or the environment. For example, under Part VI of the Bill, which deals with the management of waste (paragraphs 1 and 2, section 68), empowers local authorities that grant licences to take the necessary steps for ensuring compliance with the conditions of those licences.
The Sustainable Development Tribunal will also issue enforcement orders. The Tribunal could require the cessation of activities which are considered adverse to the environment or are otherwise not in compliance with the Act. Enforcement orders could also require the performance of the duties or obligations imposed pursuant to the Act.
In relation to the case described above of lead poisoning among Fiji Sugar Corporation workers, the Act would require the establishment of EMCs by companies that handle hazardous substances and employ more than 100 workers. The Fiji Sugar Corporation, for example, would be required to establish a EMC, which would be responsible for investigating any matter (such as lead poisoning) considered a threat.
In relation to the enforcement of the Anti-Litter Decree, the Act stipulates that in exercising any of his or her powers under the Act an inspector may be accompanied by any other person, including a police officer, whose assistance the inspector considers necessary, and that person may do such things are necessary to assist the inspector in the performance of his or her functions, and anything so done shall be deemed to have been done by the inspector. (Part II, Section 15, paragraph 4). That provision may be helpful in safeguarding enforcement officers from physical assault while undertaking their functions under the Act.