The Institute for Development and Peace otherwise known as INEF which is based in Germany has recently released its report on the Human Rights Impact Assessment of the Tampakan Copper-Gold Mining Project, an independent study commissioned and published by international development institutions MISEREOR, Lenten Fund and Bread For All. Here’s a press release statement given by MISEREOR, Lenten Fund and Bread For All:
A Xstrata Mine Threaten Human Rights in the Philippines
The Zug-based group Glencore-Xstrata is showing insufficient respect for the rights of the affected population with its plans to exploit one of the world’s biggest open-pit mines in the Philippines. Because the project threatens the livelihood of tens of thousands of people, tensions are rising and the first deaths have occurred. That is shown by a study commissioned by the Swiss Lenten Fund, MISEREOR and Bread for All. The Swiss government is now challenged to act.
Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI), a subsidiary of the Zug-based giant Xstrata group, that has merged with Glencore, plans to exploit the biggest copper and gold mine in Asia in Tampakan, Philippines. “About 5,000 indigenous people would be relocated and their traditional land destroyed. The mine would also threaten the water supply of tens of thousands of people,” says Father Joy Pelino, the director of the Social Action Center of Marbel diocese, who opposes the project. The area is politically unstable and violence is increasing: already, eight people have been killed in the context of the project. The powder keg is about to explode.
A study conducted by the Institute for Development and Peace (INEF) shows that SMI has contravened its obligation of due diligence. The UN’s Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights state that companies are responsible for respecting human rights worldwide. Precisely in such an area of conflict they must conduct prior, detailed investigations of the effect of their activities on human rights. For Daniel Hostettler, human rights expert of Lenten Fund, one thing is clear: “A mix of government failure, a poor and marginalised population, and armed conflicts are the worst possible preconditions for operating an open-cast mine of these dimensions.” The INEF study therefore concludes: “It seems today that conducting the mine project will not be possible without a serious impact on human rights.”
The aid organisations Lenten Fund, MISEREOR and Bread for All are calling upon SMI and the Philippines government to enter into an honest dialogue with the people concerned – that could even lead to dropping the project.
“The rights of the indigenous population to freely decide on the operating of mining projects in their territory must be respected,” asserts Elisabeth Strohscheidt, development policy expert from MISEREOR. The Swiss federal government should also take action: the rights without borders campaign calls for legislation so that due diligence becomes a binding standard for corporations. The Tampakan example shows that voluntary standards alone are not enough. Beat Dietschy, general secretary of Bread for All, declares: “Swiss companies have to respect all human rights, all over the world.”
Opposition to the Tampakan project also comes from Basel Bishop Felix Gmür. The president designate of the foundation council of Lenten Fund has been to the Philippines and seen with his own eyes how “people’s dignity and rights are being trampled underfoot and there is ruthless plundering of creation.” For him it is quite clear: “From a Christian perspective, striving for profit must not override the fundamental rights of the population.”
You can also view the original statement here.