51st Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, 18 April- 02 May 2012, Banjul, The Gambia
IHRDA Statement on Extractive Industries and Human Rights in Africa
The Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) wishes to congratulate the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission) for the establishment of the Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human Rights Violations in Africa. We encourage the Working Group in its work to ensure greater protection of the right of all peoples to freely dispose of their wealth and natural resources and to a general satisfactory environment favorable to their development, as provided for in articles 21 and 24 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The list of persistent human rights violations committed by those involved in the extractive industries sector, including by non-state actors impact negatively on communities in resource–rich areas. These serious human rights violations include forced relocation and eviction of local communities, loss of their livelihood, destruction of the ecosystem and pollution to name but a few. Resources, namely oil, gas and minerals, have also brought political instability, revenue management challenges, corruption and increased social tension.
In most cases, impunity, weak judicial systems and gaps existing in the national legislations are the main causes of the persistence of these human rights violations. For example, the DRC government adopted Law No 007/2002 establishing the Congolese Mining Code in July 2002. The law asserted the primacy of mining permits over individual land titles. This has opened the door to several cases of forced relocations and evictions in the country with little safeguards and support for local communities. In most cases, minimal or no steps are taken to protect the right to education, health, housing, access to water or to alternative means of subsistence livelihood.
On the basis of the forgoing, IHRDA would like to urge the African Commission through its Working Group to:
- Pay particular attention to the persistent human rights violations committed during forced relocations and evictions of local communities in the context of extractive industries, which has a serious impact on other fundamental rights;
- Provide adequate guidance to mineral-rich countries to improve their legislative and regulatory frameworks, build institutional capacity and strengthen governance in the extractive industries field.