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Rossport Five - Court Reflections

28 days on the picture is unspeakably ugly injustice is being piled on injustice as deeper and deeper holes are dug.
30th June, 2005 JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIEDLegal representatives for Shell are using court procedures to delay access to justice by the jailed Rossport men. The result is that they have been jailed without their case being heard. By taking advantage of court procedures intended to facilitate access to justice, legal representatives for Shell have consistently delayed the hearing of the case. Despite six trips to the High Court by the jailed men over the past four months, no hearing of the case has taken place because of repeated procedural obstacles.Shell are trying to use the protection of the injunction to progress the pipeline work. That is, the pipeline which is at the centre of contention will be completed by this means before the case is heard.This is a fundamental yet common abuse of our court system and ultimately of our constitution. We should all be very concerned, if not very involved. In the meantime we should at least recognise and support these brave men14th July, 2005 THOSE WHO SEEK JUSTICE MUST COME WITH CLEAN HANDSThe injunction granted to Shell was wrong from the outset: it did the opposite to what injunctions are intended to do. Instead of “freezing” the status quo it actually changed the status quo giving Shell the right to broach new work while “freezing” the landowners actions.Additionally, the principle of ‘laches’ dictates that the courts may not be used to enforce a ‘right’ which the possessor has over an extended period failed to exercise. Shell had possession of the alleged CAO and ‘Consent’ for over 2 ½ years yet never exercised it during that period.Injustice was further compounded in sending the landowners for judgement when there was substantial doubt as to the validity of Shell’s claimed right. A letter from the Dept. Marine & Nat. Resources confirming that consent to lay the pipeline had not been issued by the Minister was refused by the judge.Finally, two days later when the court agreed to accept an application intended to challenge the injunction, it might reasonably be expected that the imprisoned men would be released pending the hearing of that application. They weren’t and the clear inference is that the court is always right - even when the basis of its judgement is wrong.19th July, 2005 THE JUDICIARY IS SERVIENT TO THE CONSTITUTION AND THE PEOPLETaken together these circumstances present a shocking indictment of the manner in which the imprisoned men have been treated. Nevertheless two weeks later the President of the High Court refused to accept several applications from Counsel for the imprisoned men ruling that, so long as they are in contempt of court, no application from them will be accepted. Effectively, they are being treated as outlaws as mere criminals are not denied access to the law, no matter how vicious their crimes. There are fundamental issues of democracy and constitution in all of this.The integrity of the High Court is being placed in contention with that of the constitution, and court procedure in conflict with conviction and conscience. So long as honest and upright men are treated as outlaws and denied access to court procedure, there is no end in sight to this extraordinary dilemma.

Posted Date: 
21 August 2006 - 1:08am