Ten UN Special Rapporteurs, along with the UN Working Group on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations, have written to the PNG Government to raise their concerns about the proposed Frieda River mine and the risk of failure of its proposed tailings dam.
In May 2020, Project Sepik and the Center for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCOR) in Papua New Guinea, sent an urgent appeal to the UN Special Rapporteur on Toxic Wastes.
The letters from the Ten UN Special Rapporteurs can be viewed here, they were sent to:
The UN Special Rapporteurs signatories to the letter include the:
- Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes
- Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises
- Special Rapporteur on the right to development
- Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, health and sustainable environment
- Special Rapporteur on the right to food
- Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression
- Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association
- Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health
- Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders
- Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous peoples
- Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation.
The Ten UN Special Rapporteur letter also explained further unease about the project, including:
- The risk of a major earthquake in the project area damaging the tailings dam would exist for millions of years, as the area is seismically active;
- The capacity of the PNG government to manage the risk of the tailings dam being damaged or collapsing forever after the project has been completed;
- How the risk of pollution from toxic wastes would be managed, including along more than 320 km of pipelines;
- The lack of consultation concerning the project with communities that stand to be affected, including more than 1,300 people who would be required to be relocated;
- Concern that “the project threatens the cultural rights of the Sepik Peoples,” and could “undermine the rights of Sepik children to life, health, culture, and a healthy environment, including the rights of unborn generations”;
- Concern that critically important information regarding the tailings dam, including the dam break analysis, had not been made publicly available.
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