Hold mines accountable for violations: SAHRC

By Drum Digital
21 September 2012

Mining companies and other businesses should accept responsibility for upholding human rights, the SA Human Rights Commission said on Friday.

"Businesses, such as mining companies, must also be held to account for human rights," said SAHRC deputy chairwoman Pregs Govender.

She used the example of Marikana, where 46 people were killed as part of a labour dispute, including 34 miners shot by police.

Speaking in Geneva, Switzerland, at the 21st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Govender also called on South Africa to account for the role of the police in the killings.

Govender said all UN member states had to ensure their economic policies were vetted for possible harm to human rights.

"Globally, economic and trade policy drives poverty, inequality and the vulnerability of women to the abuse of their human rights."

It was necessary to scrutinise the impact of trade agreements and other international economic policies, and the impact of industries, such as mining, on women's access to water and sanitation.

Govender said the SAHRC had held provincial hearings in South Africa on water and sanitation, and the "overwhelming majority" of community participants were poor women.

"They have demanded answers from government representatives on why mining companies can be allowed to pollute the water they and their families rely [upon]," she said.

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