The European Tribunal in Defense of Aquatic Ecosystems presents its second case: Rights for French Guiana, on Saturday, February 27th, 5 pm Paris time.
This second case in the series is focusing on French Guiana. For more than 30 years, illegal gold mining has severely hit the French Guiana region. This activity is devastating the country because of its major impact on the environment.
About the case
Mercury pollution of waterways due to these activities leads to a collapse of biodiversity and threatens the local population’s health, especially the local Native Americans, the Wayana people, located upstream of the Maroni river.
Bursting the ground open with the help of powerful engines, illegal gold miners are responsible for the destruction of 1330km of waterways. The mercury used to treat the gold is thrown away into nature and then adds up to the mercury naturally present in the ground.
This metal can be found all along the food chain: stocked by plants and ingested by fishes, it contaminates those living alongside the river. Moreover, the muddy waters rejected by the gold mining activity are making the rivers turbid. Water is unhealthy and prevents fish’ reproduction thereby damaging the ecosystem’s health.
Aquatic ecosystems have a right to conservation, to regenerate, and restore their life cycles. This is undermined by illegal gold trafficking and therefore must be completely eradicated from the territory of French Guiana.
The recognition of Haut Maroni as a natural entity benefiting from the right to the protection, conservation, and restoration of its ecosystems, the establishment of a local governance model respectful of the rights of the people of French Guiana, guardians of the Amazon, the implementation of an action plan aimed at definitively eliminating illegal mining activities in cooperation with the inhabitants of Haut Maroni region, the implementation of local economic alternative projects and the organization of a regional mercury screening campaign.
Presenter: Marine Calmet, Lawyer, President of the NGO Wild legal
Legal Expert: Alexis Tiouka, legal expert specialized in the rights of Indigenous People
Witnesses living on the banks of the Maroni river: Linia Opoya, Kupi Aloike, and Michel Aloike
The Tribunal will be presided over by a panel of experienced Rights of Nature judges from around the world:
Chairperson: Cormac Cullinan, lawyer and writer (Wild Law: A Manifesto for Earth Justice)
Lisa Mead (lawyer, founder Earth Law Alliance), Richard Falk (professor of international law at Princeton University, writer), Valérie Cabanes (international lawyer, member of the Stop Ecocide Foundation), Tom Goldtooth (activist for rights of Indigenous People and the rights of Nature)
Prosecutor: Rebecka Le Moine
Co-Secretariat: Camille Bouko-levy, Olivia Gervais, Natalia Greene