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Jun 16, 2014

SATIIM et al files injunction against G.O.B. and US Capital Energy

Today, the Supreme Court heard an application from SATIIM et al for an injunction against the government of Belize and US Capital Energy. It’s was actually a post-judgment injunction, since a decision and a perfected order have both been delivered. SATIIM et al claims that the government is not following the orders of the court, which call for consultation with SATIIM and the four buffer communities of the Sarstoon Temash National Park. The decision was handed down at around three this afternoon, and once again it appears open for interpretation. The injunction did not stand, but Justice Michelle Arana did order that the parties go into mediation to decide on a way forward. We got reactions from all parties coming out. As we told you, it is open to interpretation and we got different ones.

 

Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney for US Capital

“Which is what I know for a fact, the government of Belize has always been trying to do; which I know for a fact that US Capital has always been willing to do; has always done…only when we have done it, we were accused of bullying the Maya people. It’s beautiful.”

 

Mike Rudon

Michael Peyrefitte

“Have there been any guidelines set by the court? Any structure in terms of this mediation, this discussion?”

 

Michael Peyrefitte

“No, no, no. Usually a mediator is appointed and they would essentially go in a room, sit down and see how we can move forward, but the mediation comes with no ruling that anybody has to follow. It is just talk.”

 

Mike Rudon

“So at this point, how does this affect or does it affect drilling or any activities by US Capital?”

 

Michael Peyrefitte

“It affects nothing; it has never affected anything. From the first judgment said the forest permit and everything were good.”

 

Denys Barrow

Denys Barrow, Attorney for G.O.B.

“It has confirmed the government’s position, the government’s decision which was that having extending the permit after fill consultation with the Sunday Wood people, the permit stands and there is not presently any challenge to the permit.”

 

Mike Rudon

“So could you tell us what’s the next move then? Will US Capital just be able to continue?”

 

Denys Barrow

“Oh yes, US Capital has a permit and therefore it can act perfectly lawfully in accordance with this permit; that’s the end of it.”

 

Reporter

“However the court has said that while the spurt of the ruling has been complied with, the letter in the sense that these villages have not been talked to—that has not been complied with—and so you are being ordered to sit down and speak , the two of you.”

 

Denys Barrow

“Well that is your interpretation of it and that’s an interesting one.”

 

Reporter

“So what’s your interpretation?”

 

Denys Barrow

“The court has said that there is still a dispute as to who government should talk with and that as I understand it is where the mediation comes in.”

 

Mike Rudon

“Will there be any structure to this mediation? Anything that says you all need to sit down and talk and at the end of a certain period of time, the court will look at what has been discussed?”

 

Denys Barrow

“Mediation, the process is compulsory, the outcome is not compulsory. So mediation is a way of allowing parties, who have a dispute, to settle the dispute themselves with the assistance of an independent neutral third party. The court does not impose an outcome in terms of mediation. The court requires you to go through the process; it does not require that you must come to a particular result or to any result.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for SATIIM et al

“This court granted an order and said very clearly that you must consult with SATIIM and the four villages that I represent before issuing any new permit or extension. We applied for an injunction when we realized that the government was not going to comply with the order of the court. And we filed that two months and two days ago and unfortunately, we couldn’t get a hearing until today. To my disappointment but not shocked, the government went ahead and issued a permit last week without consultation with my client. And so came to court today to say that it has no jurisdiction firstly and secondly that the facts on the ground had changed and therefore the injunction should not be granted. Well the court does have jurisdiction and disagreed with Mister Barrow and agreed with my submissions that the court has jurisdiction. And secondly, the court said the letter of the court’s order has not been complied with and she ordered the parties to go to mediation. The purpose of that mediation is to get the government of Belize to comply with the order of this court. The order is clear, it is simple and they should obey the law like everybody else.”

 

Mike Rudon

“Sir both the attorney for US Capital and the attorney for Government have differed significantly in their interpretation; for them it is basically a victory.”

 

Eamon Courtney

“I can understand why they would say that it is a victory. People have to say things hoping that people will be fooled. But dah noh fool di talk and dah noh fool di listen. You all were in court and you heard what the judge said, “The letter of my order has not been complied with” and she ordered the parties to go to mediation. If that is a victory for them, it is also a victory for us beucase it means that they would have to come to the table with my clients.”

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