Published On: Mon, Aug 27th, 2012

SMOC: We will remain fighting

WILLEMSTAD – The Clean Environment Foundation in Curaçao (SMOC) remains combative, but dosed. The lost appeal against the government was a hard blow, but the foundation, which fights against the pollution caused by Isla Refinery, won’t let it be, says SMOC-board Arjan Linthorst. "What drives us is purely mentality, we don’t earn a penny with SMOC" said Linthorst, chemistry teacher and scientist, "that's our strength."

Higher Appeal
SMOC was founded in 2001 to denounce the pollution caused by Isla refinery, and the foundation began in 2005 with lawsuits against the government. After years in and out of the courtroom, in September 2011 SMOC won the lawsuit against the government, which now forced Isla had to maintain its permits. But in May of this year, this lawsuit was withdrawn. The government was granted more time to carry out investigations towards Isla.

Subjective Attitudes
The disappointment in the SMOC administrative board was great. "For now, after seven years of litigation, it was requested of several Ministers on numerous occasions to take action, but they do not demonstrate any vigor or sense of reality", said the foundation shortly after the appeal. "The last statement is a technical legal issue ruled in favor of the government and the refinery," said Linthorst. "When in Curacao the court has such a subjective attitude then what's the point of having this further tackled legally."

European court
What remains now for the foundation is the European Court of Human Rights. But that's no easy road to take. "We are now in an exploratory stage whether this is a step that we can take. It should be thought of in ways of finances, we must first be sure that we have legal profit out of it," Linthorst explains. "We must have a very strong case." To put a strong case together, the foundation will also need to gain more support in the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament.

The Hague
"There must be political will from The Hague," said Linthorst. "When it comes to problems in the prison or the financial status of Curaçao Hague undertakes similar action. Meanwhile the problem with the refinery continues for thirty years. "The foundation has lost with the departure of Ineke van Gent (Groenlinks) from the chamber, an important partner in their battle. But despite all these setbacks SMOC will remain combative but in a dosed manner.

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