Court Ruling in Suriname Protects Indigenous Land

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A court in Suriname ruled to halt development on hundreds of thousands of hectares of Amazon Rainforest, most of which are occupied by indigenous peoples. The court approved an injunction filed by 12 indigenous and maroon groups who were concerned about losing vast tracts of rainforest to agricultural development.

This gives an interim measure of protection to local and Indigenous communities,” said John Goedschalk, head of Climate Change Advocacy Services, who has been fighting the land deals. “This battle isn’t over, but this is a good first step.”

The court explained its ruling by stating that the government does not have the right to grant land without free, prior, and informed consent by which developers meet with residents to explain how projects would impact daily life. The court stated in its ruling that without such a process, burial grounds, areas for hunting, and other cultural traditions of tribal living could be at risk. 

“This is a new precedent in Suriname,” Antoon Karg, the attorney who filed the injunction in March, told Mongabay. “…The rights that had previously been denied to the Indigenous and maroon communities on a national level now have a basis for enforcement.”

For more details, visit Mongabay News website.