Doatian Supreme Court reaffirms prohibition of encroachment of indigenous land, restores IDA

A case regarding Ezpera Industries’ initiative to expand further into southern Doatia has led to a direct conflict between Ezpera and the Gungi community. In the region of “Southeros”, making up the southeastern portion of Doatia, Ezpera sought and was awarded local and regional government approval for the construction of a new factory to manufacture their prized “androids.”

In the city of Aurora, the site in question, a vacant lot where a superstore once stood, has been unable to attract investors due to the rapid deterioration of the surrounding community. A majority-Gungi township, Aurora has not fully felt the economic relief that’s sweeping the rest of the nation, in part due to their rural-heavy community.

Most of the township, including the vacant lot, is technically Gungi territory. Each of Doatia’s 7 original indigenous communities were allotted territory during expansion and industrialization. But a Supreme Court decision, Burton Enterprises v Mushiki Council of Elders, in 1987 transferred the authority to approve new construction and expansion from Indigenous councils to local and regional governments. The court was heavily lobbied by corporations and conservative institutions to make this decision after multiple indigenous councils shot down numerous efforts at new development.

In 1993 the EJP-PLP coalition government passed the “Indigenous Deference Act” (IDA) which prohibited industrial expansion into indigenous communities without said community’s consent. But two short years later a new case, Silicomi Plastics v Gungi Governing Authority (GGA), would restrict the Federal Government’s role in enforcing the IDA.

In the case, the GGA had approved the construction of a Silicomi plant on Gungi island. A few months later, the GGA filed a complaint with the federal government accusing Silicomi of ‘damaging the environment and endangering fragile ecosystems’ and asked the Federal government to issue financial penalties. The Federal Government claimed it didn’t have jurisdiction and deferred to the Southeros regional government. The regional court sided with the GGA and the Southerosi legislature imposed heavy fines of Silicomi, the largest fines for environmental damage in Doatian history at the time.

Silicomi appealed to the Southerosi appeals court, arguing the regional government had no authority to impose fines in regards to a Federal law. The appeals court sided with the regional government of Southeros. In an attempt to prevent a stretched out legal process, the EJP-PLP coalition imposed fines of their own, reaffirming the IDA. The following year, Silicomi appealed the case to the Doatian Supreme Court, who took the case up several months later. The high court decided that the Federal government, surprisingly, cannot intervene and has no jurisdiction in matters regarding the IDA, as the indigenous communities are semi-autonomous from the Federal Government. This effectively repealed a majority of the IDA.

This left the execution of the remainder of the IDA solely to regional/local governments and Indigenous communities themselves. This was actually bad for Silicomi, as the Southerosi judgement stood, and they had to pay the regionally imposed fines. Fast forward to 2024:

A supermajority of the Southerosi legislature, the Governor of Southeros, and a slim majority of the Southerosi Regional Court are business-friendly. Local leaders in Aurora are desperate for economic relief. The superstore which once stood on the vacant lot was opposed by the GGA. But, the regional government approved its construction. The small city of Aurora flourished with the traffic and jobs the superstore generated. But, eventually the superstore, which was exempt from local and regional taxation, moved away, helping to contribute to the economic hardship Aurora still hasn’t recovered from. Hundreds of jobs were lost.

The GGA attempted to impose fines on the superstore owners of their own, but eventually were prohibited by the Southerosi Regional Court. And after the Aurora town council and the regional legislature approved Ezpera’s proposal, despite the GGA’s opposition, the GGA filed a complaint with the Doatian Attorney General. There were also days of peaceful demonstrations, which caused multiple public areas, roads, and municipal buildings to shut down as demonstrators disrupted the general flow of traffic and business.

The attorney general, Hayden Davis, petitioned the high court to take up the case. The court took the cast up in November and decided Wednesday that the GGA has the final authority on development of/on their lands. It reinstates the entirety of the IDA and charges the Federal government and Regional authorities to execute the will of Indigenous governments.

Chair of the GGA, Alexander Derékï applauded the high court’s decision. It’s unclear how Southerosi authorities, Aurora leaders, and Ezpera will react to the court’s decision.

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