Neighbourhood Environment Watch (NEW) Foundation has called for respect and protection of human rights by mining investors in Ebonyi state.
NEW is a foundation working to become the most reputable frontline advocate for sustainable environment and social justice in the society.
In a one day one-community dialogue and capacity-building workshop on Business and Human Rights in the Solid Minerals sector in Ebonyi State, organized by the foundation, the Executive Director – of NEW Foundation Dr. Kelechukwu Okezie noted that the investors should do their business but respect the host community’s right.
He explained that the dialogue is premised on the fact that business and human rights have gained significant attention in recent years such that the United Nations Guiding Principal on Business and Human Rights states the obligation of the actors in the business environment to not only look towards profits but also the human rights dimensions.
“As global demands for minerals continue to rise, as minerals are exploited and many communities become mining host communities, it becomes imperative to look at the ethical implications and human rights issues associated with their extraction, processing, and trade.
“Ebonyi is one of the states endowed with various solid minerals which are being exploited in large quantities. Cases of human rights abuses abound in the sector such as land, air, and water pollution that manifests in land grabbing, environmental degradation, gender-based violence, sexual exploitation, and fiscal injustice, to mention but a few.
“Often, the mining host communities are exploited, and dehumanized and their means of livelihood are forcefully taken away. Cases abound where the state which by the covenant of the United nation Guiding Principle on Business and Human Rights and the provisions of the Nigeria constitution is obligated to protect the rights of host communities (citizens) looks the other way round and would in essence only protect the interest of the investors.
“The mining operator who is required to respect the rights of host communities, apply ethical diligence, and leave the community even better than they met, does the contrary and uses force of the state actors, and their economic powers to oppress and suppress mining host communities.
“In the face of these neglects and violations, the host community has no place to turn to to seek redress.
NEW Foundation as an advocate for the respect for mining host communities’ rights, and the need to do mining right, is organizing this community dialogue and capacity building to raise concerns about human rights violations and introduce to host communities mechanisms for human rights accountability in the sector.
“Recently the Federal Government of Nigeria approved the National Action Plan (NAP) on Business and Human Rights (BHR) and this action plan details the obligations of the government, the business sector, and the citizens. We need to avail ourselves of copies of the National Action Plan go through them and become informed.
“There is a compliance mechanism for resolving disputes rather than recourse to self-help as a first line of action.
Christopher Okorie, Director National Human Rights Commission Ebonyi State in a presentation disclosed that mining communities suffer many social injustices, and as such many host communities have been thrown into serious crises that have resulted in inter-communal crises and displacement of civilians.
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