Leave to Appeal Granted in Zululand Case

17 September 2019, also published today at saveourwilderness.org.

The application by the Global Environmental Trust and the Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation, for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, has been granted by Judge Rishi Seegobin . The Centre for Environmental Rights was granted the right to intervene as amicus curiae and was also granted the right to appeal.

Below is a facsimile of the order granted in the Pietermaritzburg High Court at 9:30am this morning, 17 September.

 The Centre for Environmental Rights is granted leave to intervene in these proceedings as amicus curiae.

The applicants and the Centre for Environmental Rights are granted leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

The costs of the application for leave to appeal will be costs in the appeal.

We at The Crowd Versus are very happy and congratulate the people at Centre for Environmental Rights, the Global Environmental Trust and the Mfolozi Environmental Justice Organisation, and their lawyers.

From L/R : Catherine Horsfield and Tatenda Muponde of Centre for Environmental Rights. Kirsten Youens representing Global Environmental Trust and Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation.

Call to action

Do you want to help out with court costs? Copies of all necessary documents will still have to be made and forwarded to all parties to this litigation, plus the judge and the court itself. Donating is helping!

The Crowd vs. Destructive Mining in Zululand

Coal companies and the South African government have to stop with coal mining that puts Zululand and its people in danger and threatens the world’s greatest concentration of rhinos in the wilderness area of the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve.  Read more …

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Canadian Supreme Court denies justice to Indigenous Ecuadorians

Filed in Environmental justice by Friends of the Earth on April 4, 2019

Picture credit: Tiputini River and rainforest, Yasuni National Park, Amazon, Ecuador. (Pete Oxford/Minden Pictures/Corbis); Read more at Smithsonianmag.com.

On April 4th 2019, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the appeal in the historic case of the Indigenous people of Ecuador versus Chevron, which has become known as the “Amazonian Chernobyl” due to its devastating impact on the region.

The Ecuadorian plaintiffs seek to enforce a judgment by Ecuador’s highest court ordering Chevron to pay more than $9.5 billion dollars for clean-up of the pollution  caused by deliberately negligent operation of oil fields.

Canadian court rulings

The ruling represents a step backward for the Union of People Affected by Chevron-Texaco (UDAPT) of Ecuador and victims of corporate crimes around the world. The Supreme Court of Canada could have adopted an innovative forward-looking approach with respect to corporate responsibility, justice and equity by ensuring Indigenous communities have access to justice and reparations.

By denying the appeal, the Supreme court chose to continue with the interpretation of the current laws which favour corporate impunity.

“It’s regrettable that legal technicalities and the lack of money pose obstacles to access to justice for people who are victims of corporate crimes. In spite of the decision in Canada, our quest for justice will continue,  and we will initiate legal proceedings in other countries,” said Willian Lucitante, Coordinator of UDAPT.

The Supreme Court of Canada previously recognized this lawsuit as public interest litigation. But the judges of the Ontario lower court declared that “[t]here is a difference between economic reality and legal reality”, so the laws in force should not be modified.

If the laws are changed, the Ecuadorian lawsuit could affect Canadian companies and force them to prioritize human rights above their business interests.

Pablo Fajardo, the lawyer for the Indigenous people and peasants affected by Chevron said “It is regrettable that, once again, a country demonstrates that justice is structured to protect and guarantee impunity for transnational corporations. The Supreme Court of Canada did not get a chance to hear the merits of the Ecuadorian case and only resolved not to accept the appeal. Our lawyers did not get the opportunity to explain the ramifications of Chevron’s legal structure, which protects it from lawsuits by those impacted by their negligent operations. This is a disastrous precedent for social struggles, for rights and justice”.

Seeking justice for over 25 years

The communities’ lawsuit for justice and reparation has been advancing through the courts for over 25 years. This trial has become an emblematic demonstration of impunity that allows transnational corporations to suffer no consequences when they violate Indigenous and human rights. 

UDAPT organization and background

The UDAPT is a grassroots organization made up of six Indigenous Nations and more than 80 peasant communities, representing over 30,000 people affected by the oil company Texaco and their irresponsible activities in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Texaco, acquired by Chevron in 2001, contaminated more than 450.000 hectares of virgin forest (that is more than 650,000 soccer fields!).

The oil company dumped crude oil, toxic waters and polluting gases that affected ecosystems, the population’s health and cultural systems, security and food sovereignty, which increased poverty and exclusion.

This contamination has had a serious impact on the health of the UDAPT community; causing the highest rates of childhood leukemia in Ecuador. Cancer deaths are one hundred and thirty percent more frequent and the mortality risk is two hundred and sixty percent higher than in other parts of Ecuador. Cancer accounts for thirty two percent of total deaths, 3 times more than the national average.

On top of these challenges, Chevron uses all means to obstruct the communities’ access to justice while  the contamination of the soil and rivers of the Ecuadorian Amazon continues. Every year people die without hope of reparation for future generations.

Working at binding treaty at United Nations level

During the past years, UDAPT along with hundreds of non-profit organizations that stand for human rights has joined with international efforts, whose aim  is to lobby for the creation of a binding treaty on transnational corporations and human rights at the United Nations.

The emblematic battle of the Ecuadorians against Chevron has unveiled the structure of impunity that allows transnational corporations to get away with gross human rights violations and environmental damage.

For additional comments by Willian Lucitante, check the website of texacotoxico.net.

The Crowd Versus will continue to crowdfund for their legal needs

The Crowd Versus will continue to seek donations and crowdfund for this very important case. The indigenous peoples and Ecuadorian people stand at the front line of the defense against climate pollution by irresponsible governments and corporations.

The UDAPT have a judgment and they seek enforcement to achieve justice.

We believe they will prevail.

If you do, too, then show your faith here or become active on their behalf here.

Children Climate Case Goes to Trial Stage

Youth v. Gov Climate Case Goes to Trial:

Is a Safe Climate a Civil Right?

In the United States a group of children between the ages of 11 to 22 are suing the U.S. government for their right to a safe and stable climate. This younger generation decided they would not sit idly and watch a safe future on this planet evaporate. Now they give a voice to their generation.

On 2 November 2018 the United States Supreme Court allowed the lawsuit to go ahead and proceed. Now the case may head to trial proceedings.

Safe climate is a civil right

In 2015 the children started testing the idea that a safe climate is a civil right, by filing the lawsuit against the Obama administration for the first time. The youth and children argued that the policy of the U.S. was not in the best interest of their future, by pursuing policies that harmed the climate.

It was robbing them of a future climate that supports broad human survival.

A straightforward request

Lead lawyer Julia Olson is also founder of the nonprofit Our Children’s Trust. The mission of Our Children’s Trust is to protect children from climate change. She argues that the lawsuit has a pretty straightforward request. It asks a U.S. Federal judge to order the government to start planning how to reduce carbon emissions and stabilize the climate system for future generations.

The Trump administration

In 2017 the U.S. District Court judge agreed with the youths’ claim. They could proceed to trial.

That same year the Trump administration took over the litigative position of government in this case. President Trump ordered to roll back some of the climate regulations in place at the Environmental Protection Agency. The promotion of fossil fuel production and the indifference to the risks of greenhouse gas emissions has only grown since then.

The government lawyers in the case asked for a review of the U.S. District Court judge’s decision. The government lawyers wanted to halt the trail and avoid litigation.

In a separate motion the government lawyers were also fighting against a request by the youth’s lawyers that the Justice Department preserve all relevant documents to the lawsuit. This includes information on climate change, energy, and emissions.

U.S. government will go to court

On October 29, 2018, the trial should have begun, but the U.S. Supreme Court issued a temporary stay. This meant there were larger legal issues pending the U.S. Supreme Court wanted to examine. The U.S. Supreme Court had received a request from the Justice Department for a stay to halt the case by the government’s lawyers.The Youth v. Gov case was temporarily halted while the U.S. Supreme Court decided.

On November 2nd the U.S. Supreme Court denied the government’s request.

Now the U.S. government will have to go to court. They will argue that there is no constitutional right to an environment free of climate change.

We will keep you posted on the proceedings of this interesting case.

In the mean time, should you want to learn more, you can check out their website at Youth v. Gov, or listen to this podcast.