West Indians fear a “denial of justice”

A woman wears a t-shirt denouncing the chlordecone scandal, in Sainte-Rose, Guadeloupe, during a social protest movement, November 29, 2021.

Sixteen years of legal battle to end in a dismissal? This is the outcome feared by the civil parties, in Guadeloupe and Martinique, in the scandal of chlordecone poisoning in these two territories of the French West Indies. The latest developments are not likely to reassure the complainants. Indeed, on March 25, the investigating judges of the public health center of the Paris court announced the end of their investigations in the case of the contamination of thousands of hectares of agricultural land by this highly toxic insecticide.

Brigitte Jolivet and Fanny Bussac, the two magistrates who are investigating the complaint filed in 2006 for “endangering the life of others”, notified the dozen civil parties of their intention to close this file. No indictment having been pronounced within the framework of the instruction, this one is now moving towards a dismissal. Revealed on Tuesday April 5 by Agence France-Presse, the information caused an uproar in the West Indies, islands whose soils, waterways, agricultural products and population are contaminated by this ultra-persistent molecule, used in banana plantations between 1972 and 1993.

Read also Stéphane Foucart’s column (2021): Article reserved for our subscribers “The chlordecone scandal is not an accident, it is an extraordinary crime”

“In this whole affair, there has been a lot of levity with regard to the population”, deplores Philippe Pierre-Charles, spokesperson for the environmental collective Lyannaj pou dépolyé Matinik, recalling that in February 2021, ten thousand Martiniquais had marched against a possible prescription of the file. The union activist assures that his collective, which brings together several complainant associations, did not receive the letter of March 25 from the Paris court.

Misplaced Minutes

Chance of the calendar, on April 4, Lyannaj pou dépolyé Matinik had sent several left-wing candidates in the presidential election a letter denouncing “the colonial state crime of the poisoning of Martinique and Guadeloupe with chlordecone”. The magnitude of this disaster “in our opinion justifies a substantial mobilization in our territories but also in France”, underlines this document dated April 2.

Some recipients received the message successfully. During his last major campaign meeting, organized Tuesday evening in Lille and broadcast in 11 other cities, Jean-Luc Mélenchon discussed the case. “I regret that, to conclude, the judicial investigation has been completed and that the decision taken regarding chlordecone is that there would be no prosecution”, affirmed the candidate of La France insoumise. “The Republic cannot consider that this file is closed. All victims of #chlordecone must be compensated”, replied the ecologist Yannick Jadot on Twitter.

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