Justice Sandra Kurtzious yesterday discharged an injunction granted in September 2012 to miner Belina Charlie against the toshao of Kako who had stopped the miner from accessing the Kako River.
Charlie has been involved in a standoff with villagers of Kako, Region 8 since 2012 over the right to mine in the area. Villagers had sought to deny her access to the area for fear of pollution of the river.
“The court discharges the injunction dated 18th September 2012, and orders that the matter take its normal course,” Justice Kurtzious said.
The injunction was applied for by Charlie against Kako Toshao, Mario Hastings, Beatrice Hastings, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and the Attorney General. Attorney at law C Persaud appeared for the plaintiff, while Nigel Hughes represented the defendants.
Justice Kurtzious said that the court ruled that having considered the allegations made by the plaintiff concerning the prevention by the first and second defendants, the plaintiff ought to have filed a prerogative writ for the breach of constitutional rights, her liberty and freedom of movement along the Kako River.
Justice Kurtzious in her ruling further said that “…that the act of the first and second defendant and the alleged threats and the prevention of the plaintiff from proceeding along the Kako River, notwithstanding the permission given to the plaintiff by the prior authority constitutes a criminal offence and therefore the civil court is not the correct forum to seek the necessary relief.”
In May 2013, in a plea for the safeguarding of their only water source, Kako villagers had called for the immediate suspension of mining on the Kako River as well as a banning of future operations upstream from the village during a tense meeting with a government team
In the October 16, 2012 edition of this newspaper, Hastings had said that that the village is strongly opposed to any mining upstream of the community. “We believe that the river would be polluted and if we allow this individual, then others will follow,” he said. “We know from experience that Upper [Mazaruni] is a mining area and we would have a lot of impact to our culture, way of life, health,” the village leader said.
He said that because of mining activities, the incidence of malaria, dengue and typhoid has increased in the area. He said that they are also experiencing cases of fish dying mysteriously in the river and despite an investigation, the results have not been reported to the village and they are not satisfied.
Further, he pointed out that the Kako River is not as deep as the Mazaruni given that it has many rapids and he said that the high-powered boats of the miners, and the tailings from the dredges would disrupt navigation.
He added that the miners also do not have any respect for the fishermen and others.
He had also said that they had no confidence in the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs. ”In the letter that the miner showed the council, the minister said that they must cooperate with the miner.
That alone would tell that she is in favour of them rather than trying to help us,” he said.
He said he had also met the minister who said that the miner has a legal right to work and if the Toshao went against this, he could find himself in trouble in an apparent reference to legal proceedings,” Hastings said.