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Pesticide scandal in the West Indies: associations, collectives and lawyers

More than 15 years after the first complaints for poisoning, endangering the lives of others and administration of harmful substances, associations, collectives and mobilized lawyers fear a dismissal in the chlordecone file. The investigating judges of the public health center of the Paris court, pronounced on March 25 the end of the investigations, without any questioning.

On Tuesday April 5, 2022, AFP (Agence France Presse) revealed, according to sources close to the case, that the investigating judges of the public health center of the Paris judicial court acted on March 25, “the end of the investigations without questioning, in the investigation into the poisoning of the West Indies with chlordecone”.

The national press echoes it, while the associations and collectives mobilized for several years in Guadeloupe and Martinique are moved by it.

There are deaths, there is a crime, there are people who are sick and no one is responsible!? I don’t understand ! In any case, we will continue the fight. We will first go to the French courts to hear everything they say as the law recommends, then we will go to the international courts.

Pascal Tourbillon, member of the legal committee of ASSAUPAMAR on Martinique 1ère télé

“The people of Martinique are poisoned at 92% and 95% for Guadeloupeans. Despite these high figures, the refusal to condemn those responsible remains the only response as contempt” reacts Lyannaj Pou Dépolyé Matinik on his Facebook page.

We are not surprised, we know that only popular mobilization pays! And besides Lyannaj Pou Dépolyé Matinik had already anticipated, by addressing an open letter to the presidential candidates. Several evoked in their propaganda “the colonial crime of State” which constituted the poisoning of Martinique and Guadeloupe with Chlordecone. We await their responses.

Marie-Josèphe Sellaye Hardy-Dessources – Member of Lyannaj Pou Dépoyé Matinik

First on the judicial level, formally the end of the procedure sends us back in 3 months. Then we are convinced of the strength of the social and citizen movement that we are already calling on to be ready!

Marie-Josèphe Sellaye Hardy-Dessources

Pesticide poisoning protest banner (illustrative image).

©Cap/FB/ Lyannaj Pou Dépoyé Matinik / DR

The possible prescription of public action, which could therefore lead to a dismissal, also arouses indignation in the political class. “This probable decision would be as incomprehensible as it would be unacceptable to the local populations, permanently affected by the consequences of this tragedy” Serge Letchimy gets annoyed in its press release of April 5, 2022.

When he was still a deputy, the President of the Executive Council of the Territorial Collectivity of Martinique chaired a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the economic, health and environmental impact of the use of chlordecone and paraquat as agricultural insecticides in Guadeloupe and in Martinique, but also on the public and private responsibilities in the extension of their authorization, and evaluating “the need for and the methods of compensation for the damage suffered by the victims and the territories concerned”.

Irresponsibility aggravates the fault. It is a systemic, societal, economic and health drama. To deny it would be a lack of respect towards us, Martiniquans and Guadeloupeans. The transcendence of truth founds the power and force of justice. This is why we must continue to hope that one day, a real policy of reparation can see the light of day. The truth will triumph.

Serge Letchimy – PCE of the CTM

Lawyers Corinne Boulogne Yang-Ting, Raphaël Constant, Ernest Daninthe and Louis Boutrin also fear a dismissal.

After fifteen years of investigation and in the current state of the law in force, no indictment has been pronounced which leaves to fear a strong probability of a decision of dismissal.

In this case, in addition to the slowness of the judicial institution, archives which could prove that the State was aware of the toxicity of chlordecone would have disappeared. In addition, a lack of report was noted between February 1972 and June 1989, which would have led the court to recognize almost 15 years later, “prescription of facts” and obstacle to the manifestation of the truth”. But the dismissal has not yet been pronounced, recalls Me Harry Durimel.

An end of disclosure notice does not terminate the disclosure. It opens up other fields. We can request documents. If the judge refuses, you can appeal. The prosecutor will hang his indictment after this notice of end of information. If the judge issues a dismissal order, we will appeal. If the Court of Appeal confirms the dismissal, we will go to cassation and perhaps at the level of the European Court of Human Rights or the European Court of Justice.

Lawyer Harry Durimel in Guadeloupe 1ère

Chlordecone manifestation

Demonstration against chlorinedecone in the streets of Fort-de-France (February 27, 2021).

©Martinique The 1st

In this scandal, the plaintiffs hope for a single outcome and have only one watchword: “repair”.



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