Chlordecone in the West Indies: end of investigation, to be fired

The two judges announced the end of the Chlordecone poisoning investigation in the West Indies without asking questions, disappointing the people of Martinique and Guadeloupe who denounced the continued contamination of their islands with the pesticide allowed on pre-1993 banana plantations.

Sixteen years after the filing of the complaints, two investigating judges of the Public Health Department of the Paris Court of Justice announced on March 25 to the communities and associations that filed the complaints that they intended to close the case without issuing an indictment, thereby setting him up for possible dismissal, AFP reported. Tuesday from sources familiar with the matter.

This end-of-information notice opens a period allowing the parties to the procedure to declare their intention to make observations, request acts, etc., until the request of the Paris prosecutor’s office and the final decision of the investigating judges.

“We were prepared for this because at the beginning of 2021 the investigating judge heard us say that this was the intended referral and so we are preparing for it,” Garry Durimel, a civil lawyer in Guadeloupe, told AFP Me. initiator and originator of the original complaint in 2006.

However, the appeals are “not over”, he insists, as the lawyers are already planning to “appeal in case of dismissal” and even “appeal to the European Court of Justice” if local remedies are exhausted.

In 2006, several associations in Martinique and Guadeloupe filed a complaint about poisoning, endangering the lives of others and the use of harmful substances.

Since 2008, the Public Health Center of the Paris Court of Justice has been in charge of judicial information, but in 2021 the investigating judges informed several civilian parties of their analysis, according to which the facts will overwhelmingly be established.

Two months later, Remy Heitz, then a Paris prosecutor, assessed in an interview with the daily newspaper France Antilles that “the vast majority of the facts exposed had already been established” after filing complaints in 2006.

– Collective action –

However, this is not the only existing complaint of Chlordecone poisoning.

In May 2020, five hundred West Indians exposed to Chlordecone, for their part, applied to the administrative court of Paris to have anxiety damages recognized. Several organizations joined this collective action, including the Representative Council of Black Associations (CRAN), the Guadalupe Vivre Association and the Lyannaj pou depoye matinik collective.

Demonstration in Fort-de-France against the threat of prescription in the Chlordecone case, February 27, 2021, Martinique (AFP / Archive – Lionel CHAMOISOT)

Chlordecone, a pesticide banned in France in 1990 but allowed to be used on banana plantations in Martinique and Guadeloupe until 1993, has caused significant and long-term pollution of the two islands.

More than 90% of adults in Guadeloupe and Martinique are infected with Chlordecone, according to French public health data, and the population of Western India has one of the highest rates of prostate cancer in the world.

These Chlordecone-related prostate cancers were recognized as an occupational disease in December, paving the way for compensation to farmers and farm workers.

According to the Paris court information, civil parties include the Regional Council of Guadeloupe and the territorial community of Martinique. The latter in October denounced a “health scandal with deadly consequences for the population.”

Woman wearing a t-shirt
A woman wears a T-shirt reading “All against Chlordecone” near a checkpoint in Sainte-Rose on November 29, 2021 in Guadeloupe (AFP/Archive – Christophe ARCHAMBEAU)

“The turn of this scandalous case is worrying because we are heading towards a denial of justice,” lawyers for Urban Ecology Association Rafael Constant, Corinne Boulogne Jan-Thing, Ernest Daninte, said in a press release Tuesday. and Georges Louis Boutrin.

“After fifteen years of investigation and under the current state of the current legislation, not a single indictment has been issued, which makes it possible to fear a high probability of a dismissal decision,” they worry.

A possible recipe for public action has already sparked resentment and anger in the West Indies.

For example, several thousand Martinique residents marched through the streets of Fort-de-France at the end of February 2021 to denounce the possible aging of this complaint.

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