french guiana illegal gold mining rights of nature

French Guiana: Illegal gold mining tried at the European Rights of Nature Tribunal

France’s failure to act in regards to the health and ecological scandal of illegal gold mining in French Guiana was heard at an online hearing, today, Saturday 27th February 2021. This is one of the 5 hearings of the European Tribunal of Nature’s Rights in defense of aquatic ecosystems. The Associations: Wild Legal, ONAG, the Association of Women Victims of Mercury, Maiouri Nature Guyane, the Guides of French Guiana company, and the collective Or de question have joined forces to draw attention to the dramatic situation that is hitting French Guiana, its ecosystems and its population.

The five hearings of the European Tribunal of Nature Rights for the defense of aquatic ecosystems organized by the European Hub of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature (GARN) and the International Rights of Nature Tribunal are scheduled every last Saturday of the month between January and May 2021. Their purpose is to raise public awareness of water and climate change issues. They also aim to question public decision-makers on the lack of rights of aquatic ecosystems in our current legal system.

Today’s 2,5h hour hearing was focused on the consequences of illegal gold mining in the French Amazon. For more than 30 years, French Guiana has been a region severely hit by illegal gold mining. This activity is devastating the country because of its major impact on the environment and health.

The interveners in the trial were: Marine Calmet, president of the Wild Legal association, Alexis Tiouka, an expert in indigenous peoples’ law, and Linia Opoya, president of the association of women victims of mercury and inhabitant of Taluen, an Amerindian village in Haut Maroni.

The session was chaired by judges who are internationally recognized for their knowledge of environmental justice: Cormac Cullinan, lawyer, and writer (Wild Law: A Manifesto for Earth Justice), Lisa Mead, lawyer and founder of the Earth Law Alliance, Valérie Cabanes, international lawyer and member of Stop Ecocide, Tom BK Goldtooth, Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, an activist for the rights of indigenous peoples and the rights of nature. The Co-Secretariat was Camille Bouko-Levy, and the Earth Prosecutor was Rebecka LeMoine.

Download the press release for the Tribunal, with quotes on the participants:

Press Release in English

Press Release in French

The video of the French Guiana case session is available here: 



Register for the future hearings at

For more information on the case of illegal gold pillage in French Guiana, visit the website of the International Rights of Nature Tribunal and the website of the association Wild Legal.

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