Canadian businessman guilty of contempt of court for illegal dredging
NASSAU, Bahamas, March 8, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Canadian clothing manufacturer Peter Nygard was fined $50,000 today by a Bahamian judge for violating a court order to stop environmentally damaging dredging near his beachfront home in the Bahamas.
Supreme Court Justice Rhonda P. Bain found Nygard in contempt of court for violating her 2013 order to stop dredging the seabed around his property on the western edge of Nassau Island. Justice Bain gave Nygard until March 21 to pay the fine or be remanded to Fox Hill prison for 14 days.
"This is an extraordinary triumph for environmental justice in the Bahamas," said attorney Fred Smith, who argued the case on behalf of Save the Bays (STB), a local environmental group. Over the years, according to Mr. Smith, Nygard has almost doubled the size of his property by digging up sand off-shore and spreading it along his beachfront, harming reefs and other natural habitats.
"Mr. Nygard has been damaging the environment for years, but instead of enforcing our laws, the government of Prime Minister Perry Christie has looked the other way," Smith said. "Today, everybody should be thankful that the Supreme Court of the Bahamas has once again upheld the rule of law and held Mr. Nygard accountable."
Justice Bain ruled that Nygard must remove the sand he piled along his beach in violation of her order by April 7 or pay another $50,000 fine, plus $1,000 per day for every day he violates her ruling. Nygard also was ordered to pay Save the Bays' court costs.
The issues surrounding Nygard's dredging have drawn intense international attention. Last year, when a Bahamian cabinet minister read purloined emails from STB during a session of Parliament, a Supreme Court justice ruled that the minister had violated the group's constitutional right to privacy and fined the minister $150,000. Following the ruling, the government threatened to hold the judge and STB in contempt of parliament, throwing the country into a constitutional crisis that has yet to be resolved.
Last week, in its annual human rights report on the Bahamas, the US State Department said that "the climate for civil society groups appeared to be worsening" and cited "government intimidation of nongovernmental organizations," referring to the public reading of Save the Bays' emails.
Contact: Paco Nunez at email@example.com
Related link: http://www.savethebays.bs/