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JM | Jun 21, 2022

Jamaican Gov’t hit with historic lawsuit by Accompong Maroons

Gavin Riley

Gavin Riley / Our Today

administrator
Accompong chief Colonel Richard Currie. (Photo: Instagram @chiefrichardcurrie)

Upping the ante on its ongoing dispute with the Andrew Holness-led administration, Colonel Richard Currie is announcing that the Accompong Maroons have filed a lawsuit against the Government of Jamaica. 

Currie, in a statement released on Monday (June 20), advised that the lawsuit also includes the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) and was formally filed in the Supreme Court on May 6, 2022.

Amid tensions between the Currie-led Cockpit Country Maroons and the State, the chief declared that the lawsuit serves as another step in their efforts to protect land vital to the Maroons’ survival. 

Attorney General Dr Derrick McKoy was formally served with the suit last Wednesday, and the first hearing of the historic case will be on July 12 in Kingston. 

Buoyed by worldwide interest in the fight against State-sanctioned mineral ore mining in the Cockpit Council—particularly captured in documentaries by VICE News—attorneys Isat Buchanan, Charles Ganga-Singh and Alessandra Labeach comprise the legal team representing the Accompong Maroons.

The statement further indicated that reparations advocate Bert Samuels, other international attorneys as well as the Maroon Ambassador Plenipotentiary Anu Tafari Zion El are also active players in the suit against the Government. 

“The lawsuit further outlines violations of constitutionally protected rights to private property, the observance of political doctrines, and trespass to the Maroon estate which has been unlawfully permitted by the Government of Jamaica to be mined for bauxite and other raw ore minerals,” the statement noted.

See statement in full below: 

“The resilience of the Accompong Maroons has caught the interest of international media giants such as Forbes Magazine, VICE News, celebrities, and even world governments. 

The illustrious history of the Jamaican Maroons and the fight for freedom against colonisation has captivated researchers of history, and in this era of time under the leadership of the [democratically] elected Chief Richard Currie, the Maroons seek to defend their lands once again. 

Almost 300 years after the signing of the 1738 Maroon Treaty of Peace and Friendship with the British Crown, the indigenous Maroons of the Cockpit Country have filed a lawsuit against the Government of Jamaica and the Jamaica National Heritage Trust. 

The Fixed Date Claim was filed on Friday, May 6th, 2022 in the Supreme Court of Judicature of Jamaica, and outlines redress for a declaration of title under the Registrations of Titles Act without prejudice to Maroon sovereignty. 

The lawsuit further outlines violations of constitutionally protected rights to private property, the observance of political doctrines, and trespass to the Maroon estate which has been unlawfully permitted by the Government of Jamaica to be mined for bauxite and other raw ore minerals. 

Accompong residents engaged in a sacred drumming ritual passed on for hundreds of years. (Photo: Instagram @chiefrichardcurrie)

Unlike other previous Maroon cases brought before the Supreme Court of Jamaica, such as the Mann O. Rowe case, this Fixed Date Claim by the Accompong Government has been legally constructed with precision to allow the Court for the first time in history to construe exactly how the 1738 Maroon Treaty remains in force under the 1962 Order in Council, Constitution of Jamaica. 

The Claim expresses the Maroon property rights under the Laws of Jamaica, and the Maroon boundary was declared and defines 116,218 hectares as Cockpit Country. Maroon indigenous rights under international law and Maroon Statehood have also been expressed at an erudite level which will both provoke and intrigue the best legal minds, political scientist[s] and scholars around the world. 

The Claimants requested no declaration on sovereignty based on the local venue. A strong legal team comprising of Isat Buchanan, Charles Ganga-Singh and Alessandra Labeach along with consultations from Bert Samuels and international attorneys as well as the Maroon Ambassador Plenipotentiary Anu Tafari Zion El have been pulled together for this historic case. 

The Attorney General for the Jamaican Government was served on June 15th, 2022, and the first hearing date is set for July 12th, 2022. 

Attorney General Dr Derrick McKoy taking the oaths of office and allegiance at a swearing-in ceremony on January 11, 2022. (Photo: JIS)

The world watches on keenly as the Leeward Trelawny Town Maroons of the Sovereign State of Accompong apply the necessary legal steps to defend their rights and property in modern Jamaican legislation.”

Currie, who was elected chief of the St Elizabeth-based enclave in February 2021, has repeatedly come under fire by the Holness administration for what it calls a ‘populist movement’ against the State. 

The following is a timeline of major events amid heightened tensions between Accompong Maroons and the Government over the past 16 months: 

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