Turkey’s largest environmental law suit: Artvin Cerattepe against the Gold Mine

On 19 September 2016, Turkey’s largest environmental trial, which has 751 real and legal entities including TEMA Foundation as complainants and 61 lawyers representing them, was held in Rize Administrative Court.

To give a brief introduction about the lawsuit: the struggle in Artvin started in early 90s when gold was first discovered in the area. Due to the geographical uniqueness of the area and the reported effects of any type of mining in the area, the local people protested against gold mining activities, and they supported their struggle with scientific evidence revealing the drastic destruction of any kind of mining activity would have on the area. Artvin Cerattepe is located in a National Park, which is a registered national natural protection area; the area is also internationally protected in framework of Rio, CITES and Bern Agreements. Artvin is home to protected fauna and flora types with 1400 plant species including 125 endemic and 77 rare plants species.

The trial on 19th September was on the annulment of the positive EIA report and the complainants’ lawyers ordered a stay of execution. During the trial the lawyers of the complainants presented numerous arguments on the irreversible destruction that the planned mining activities would cause, provided scientific evidence for these arguments. The trial ended unresolved because the complainants’ lawyers challenged the impartiality of the panel of judges. The decision for this challenge is still pending.