North Kivu : Victory for the Environment, Goma Court Upholds ACEDH’s Climate Action Rights

In a landmark decision rendered on July 9, 2024, at the Goma Courthouse, the Court ruled in favor of the Congolese Alert for Environment and Human Rights (ACEDH) in a critical case against the Democratic Republic of Congo. This case, centered on the inefficiency of protective measures for Virunga National Park and the need for stronger actions to counter encroachment and preserve biodiversity, marked a significant turning point for environmental law in the DRC.

Olivier Ndoole, ACEDH’s coordinator, expressed satisfaction in an interview with Kilalopress, highlighting the importance of the decision which affirms his organization’s right to legal action for the environment. Initially challenged by the DRC on technical grounds, ACEDH’s action was validated by the court, which recognized its legitimacy in holding accountable for environmental damages in Virunga Park.

The Republic had argued that ACEDH lacked standing to litigate concerning a national park, citing procedural and technical exceptions. However, the court not only dismissed these arguments but also approved ACEDH’s request for an expert from the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN) to assess the park’s current state since 2000. Furthermore, it allowed on-site inspections, a crucial step in directly evaluating the extent of park damage and encroachment.

This decision marks significant progress for climate justice in the DRC, placing environmental issues at the heart of national judicial debate. For ACEDH and other climate activists, it represents a symbolic yet substantial victory, affirming the role of Congolese courts in safeguarding the environment against harmful actions.

More than a mere legal assertion, this decision signifies a stride towards more robust environmental legislation and recognition of the importance of climate justice at community and judicial levels. By affirming local organizations’ initiative rights in environmental protection, the Goma court paves the way for more effective climate action and enhanced protection of the DRC’s invaluable ecosystems.

By Franck zongwe lukama

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