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Thailand: Karen villagers win lawsuit against mining company

Lower Klity villagers show pictures of those who were killed by lead contamination in front of Kanchana Buri Provincial Court (Photo from EnLaw)

After 19 years of dispute, Karen villagers from lower Klity village in Kanchana Buri, Thailand, won a lawsuit against a lead mining company, which was found guilty and has to restore a local creek contaminated by lead and give a compensation for the damages.

Karen villagers win lawsuit against mining company

Indigenous Voices in Asia. September 21, 2017.- The Supreme Court has ordered a lead mining company to restore a local creek contaminated by its industrial waste. The company also has to pay 36 million baht in compensation to Karen villagers.

On 11 September 2017, the Supreme Court delivered a verdict in the case that 151 Karens from lower Klity village, Kanchana Buri, accused Lead Concentrate Company for contaminating their local river with lead, threatening their health and wellbeing. The company was ruled guilty and has to pay 36 million baht as compensation to the villagers. The court also ordered the company’s executive boards to remove lead contaminant from the infected creek.

The verdict is a final chapter to the 19-year dispute. According to an environmentalist group ENLAWTHAI Foundation, the dispute began in 1998 when villagers reported that the company released lead contaminant into their Lower Klity Creek, leading to deaths and illness of various villagers. However, their voice had been ignored by both the company and relevant agencies.

In 2003, the villagers sued the company and government agencies for a compensation. In December 2010, Kanchana Buri Provincial Court ruled the company guilty and order the defendants to pay compensation and restore the river.

The company appealed the case and the Appeal Court two years later confirmed the judgement on the compensation but ruled that the the villagers cannot force the company to restore the river. The villagers, therefore, appealed the case and led to the Supreme Court’s verdict on 11 September.

In addition to this lawsuit, Lower Klity villagers also won two previous lawsuits against government agency and Lead Concentrate Company. They had accused the Pollution Control Department (PCD) for neglecting duty and in 2013, the Supreme Administrative Court ordered the PCD to clean up toxic in Lower Klity Creek and to pay 4 million baht in compensation to the villagers.

Another case was finalised in 2016 when the Supreme Court ruled the company guilty for contaminating Lower Klity Creek and ruining health of the villagers. The company has to pay over 20 million baht as compensation and was ordered to clean up the river.

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