Boskalis doesn’t have to share documents on controversial project; fishing communities will not get crucial information
18 september - The court in Rotterdam today ruled that Dutch dredging company Boskalis does not have to make information on the social and environmental risks of its sand extraction operations in the coastal zone near Makassar, Indonesia, available to local fishing communities affected by the activities. Environmental and human rights organisation Both ENDS had initiated legal action against the company. The court declared Both ENDS inadmissible and did not consider the case. Both ENDS brought the action on behalf of Indonesian fishing communities after Boskalis had rejected repeated requests to provide information on the impact of its activities.
The fishing communities have lived on the yield from their fishing grounds for many generations. The activities carried out by Boskalis are having such an impact on the fishing grounds that these families are losing their livelihoods.
The court was not convinced that Both ENDS is the right organisation to protect the fishers' interests, as the case is primarily about economic interests. "Both ENDS focuses precisely on the link between environment, human rights and poverty, the core of sustainable development,' says Niels Hazekamp of Both ENDS. "It has devoted itself for more than thirty years to protecting the natural resources on which millions of people worldwide directly depend for their livelihoods. And we have been working together with local groups for four years to defend the interests of the fishing communities around Makassar against the harmful impact of large-scale infrastructure projects."
In its ruling, the court refers to a recent change in the law that imposes stricter rules on organisations that defend the interests of other parties, like the Indonesian fishers. It concluded that Both ENDS does not meet these stricter requirements and that this case does not have sufficient points of contact to be considered under Dutch law.
"If this is indeed the implication of this this change in the law, it is extremely worrying," says human rights lawyer Channa Samkalden, who is assisting Both ENDS with this case. "The intention of the legislation was to combat shady claims, not to make it more difficult for NGOs like Both ENDS to defend the interests of foreign victims of human rights violations."
Dialogue and follow-up steps
"Fishing communities in Makassar have been left empty-handed," says Hazekamp. "They need the information they requested to be able to defend their rights. This ruling is extremely disappointing. We repeat our call for Boskalis to enter into dialogue with the fisher folk before the activities are completed."
Both ENDS is consulting with its partners in Indonesia and the fisher folk on what follow-up steps to take in Indonesia and the Netherlands.
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