Trial for Secwepemc land defenders delayed, next court date set for December 7

Published by Brent Patterson on

The trial for three Secwepemc land defenders that was to start on November 16 has been delayed with a new court date expected to be set in December.

Kamloops This Week reports: “The week-long trial of three members of an outspoken First Nations protest group opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project was delayed on Monday (Nov. 16) after a lawyer representing one of the accused said he could no longer represent her.”

“Defence lawyer Michael Klein, representing Chantel Manuel, told court he had no choice but to withdraw, but he did not divulge what led to the misunderstanding between him and his client. He did say it had nothing to do with non-payment.”

“Chantel Manuel then asked for an adjournment, which Kamloops provincial court Judge Stella Frame reluctantly granted.”

The article adds: “Lawyers are scheduled to return to court on Dec. 7 to set new trial dates.”

In this video posted yesterday, Mayuk Manuel speaks about the delay in the trial.

Prior to the adjournment, Harsha Walia had posted: “Three Indigenous land defenders face targeted charges intended to criminalize and punish and deter them from the frontlines. Anyone who has been dragged through court proceedings knows the process itself (not the outcome) is the punishment.”

In January 2019, International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) also noted: “According to the United Nations (UN), indigenous rights defenders are facing greater violations of their rights today than they were just a decade ago. Every year, thousands of indigenous peoples are criminalised and discriminated against – increasingly, this trend takes the highest toll of all: the life of indigenous rights defenders.”

And in September 2019, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous peoples at that time, noted: “Extractive activities within indigenous peoples’ lands and territories undertaken without adequate consultation or consent are the main source of serious violations of their human rights, including violence, criminalisation and forced displacement.”

PBI-Canada has provided some context on the trial that was to start yesterday in Judge rules Trans Mountain must release correspondence that may show bias in the arrest of Secwepemc land defenders, will be watching for updates from the scheduled court appearance on December 7, and is also following this related court case: Secwepemc land defenders Kanahus Manuel and Isha Jules on trial on November 23-24.

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