In a recent submission by a joint Non-Government Organization Group (Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights Inc, Bismarck Ramu Group, Evangelical Lutheran Church and Ozeanien Dialog) to the United Nations’ Periodic Review Committee, the group has put together a number of strong recommendations against human rights threats by the extractive industries for UN’s urgent action. This call is in light of the National Government’s push for Deep Sea Tailings method from the Wafi-Golpu mining and the Frieda River Mine.
The group stressed that Papua New Guinea has pledged and reaffirmed its strong commitment towards advancement and protection of fundamental principles and values of universal human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Charter of the United Nations, which the government and relevant authorities are to honor this commitment.
However, since 2016, the PNG government has failed to uphold, promote and protect the human rights of its citizens related to extractive industries as per its commitment to the UN. Even though Extractive Industries are the largest economic contributor to the nation’s wealth, its operations have caused a lot of serious human rights problems.
The human rights impact by the extractive industries in Papua New Guinea include;
- Rights to Life
- Right to water and sanitation (Rivers polluted)
- Rights to Food (food supplies reduced, reduce in forests, gardens, rivers and sea)
- Right to livelihood (local economy disrupted)
- Right to equal protection before the law (alleged police violence against protesters)
- The right to property (dwellings destroyed)
- The right to freedom of religion
- The right to participation in the cultural life in the community (sacred sites destroyed)
- The rights to free, prior and informed consent (inadequate consultation)
The government’s approval of mine permits for the Wafi-Golpu mine and its deep-sea tailings method has caused widespread protests and disagreements. There are ongoing public calls for the deep-sea tailings to be abandoned.
Towards end of last year, UN’s Special Rapporteurs on Toxic Wastes and others have expressed grave concern, warning the government on the likely human rights and environmental impact if Frieda Mine was approved. The Ten special rapporteurs report was released in light of widespread public outcry for the likely human and environmental rights issues. The report can be accessed on the link.
With this concerns, BRG, CELCOR, ELC-PNG and Ozeanien Dialog after careful analysis and research have made the following recommendations for UN’s action;
- That the UN Human Rights Commission request a Commission of Inquiry into the Human Rights abuses in the extractive industry sector
- That the UN Human Rights Commission requests a halt to all mining developments of the Sepik Development Projects and the Wafi-Golpu Mining Project until all the solutions to tailings are technologically and mechanically safe for all lives including human beings who live within the vicinity of the proposed tailings disposal.
- The UN Human Rights Commission to instruct the government of Papua New Guinea to stop all mining activities that will involve the sea and that will have direct negative consequences on the people and their social life
- The UN Human Rights Commission instruct the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority to cancel the Environment Permit issued to Wafi-Golpu Mining Project in January 2021
- That the UN Human Rights Commission instruct the PNG government to stop ALL Deep Sea Tailings Practices
- And UN Human Rights Commission instruct the PNG government to find the safest tailings treatments methods if any mine is to proceed into the future