Constitutional claims on impact of Discovery Bauxite operations
THE EDITOR, Madam:
This is with reference to The Gleaner editorial of March 23, we would like to offer the following clarifications:
1. There are two separate constitutional claims regarding the impacts of Discovery Bauxite Partners’/Discovery Bauxite Operations Limited’s mining operations currently before the courts:
a. The first claim was filed in January 2021 by the Southern Trelawny Environmental Agency (STEA) and Clifton Barrett, in specific reference to Special Mining Lease (SML) 173.
b. The second claim was filed in July 2022 by nine residents of rural communities in St Ann, in respect of mining activities carried out pursuant to SMLs 165 and 172, and the mining proposed to be carried out pursuant to SML 173.
c. Both claims allege breaches, or the threat of breaches, to constitutional rights, including the right to enjoy a healthy and productive environment, among other claims.
d. The Supreme Court has decided to hear these two cases together in November 2023.
2. The nine St Ann residents simultaneously applied for an interim injunction to restrain the continuation or commencement of mining pursuant to those SMLs until the trial of the claim. On January 20, the Supreme Court granted an injunction in respect of SML 173, but not in respect of the other SMLs, because it accepted the mining companies’ evidence that mining in those SML areas has ceased. That decision is now being appealed by the mining companies. The residents have also filed a counter appeal.
3. The nine St Ann residents are also beneficiaries of precautionary measures granted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in November 2022. The request was filed by Malene Alleyne of Freedom Imaginaries.
4. The editorial conflates these claims and frames them all as an issue affecting the Cockpit Country, but the claims also allege breach of the constitutionally protected rights of residents and, in one case, a non-government organisation, STEA. In the latter case, the Government of Jamaica claimed that STEA was not a natural person and applied to remove STEA from the claim, but this application was refused by the court on March 14.
5. We note The Gleaner editorial’s call for stakeholder consultation, which we would welcome, once it is free from an atmosphere of threat and intimidation and commits to explore the issues frankly and fairly.
JAMAICA ENVIRONMENT TRUST