UN experts call for probe into deadly dam collapse in Brazil

By agency reporter
February 4, 2019

UN human rights  experts have called for a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into the collapse of a tailing dam in Minas Gerais, Brazil, on 25 January 2019, the second such incident involving the same company in the past three years.

Dozens were killed and hundreds left missing by the disaster involving the Córrego do Feijão mine owned by the mining company Vale. Experts expressed their deepest condolences to the families of the victims and solidarity to those affected by the catastrophic collapse of the tailing dam.

The tragedy demands accountability and calls into question preventive measures taken subsequent to the Samarco mining disaster in Minas Gerais just over three years ago, when a catastrophic flood of mining waste near Mariana killed 19 people and affected the lives of millions, including indigenous communities”, the experts said.

“We urge the Government to act decisively on its commitment to do everything in its power to prevent more such tragedies and to bring to justice those responsible for this disaster”, the experts said, noting with concern deregulatory efforts on environmental and social protection in Brazil over the recent years.

“We call upon the Brazilian Government to prioritise the safety evaluations of existing dams and rectify current licensing and safety inspection processes to prevent reoccurrence of this tragic incident. We further call upon the Government not to authorise any new tailing dams nor allow any activities that would affect the integrity of existing ones until safety is ensured.”

UN Special Rapporteur on Toxics, Baskut Tuncak, made a specific call for a transparent, impartial, rapid and competent investigation into the toxicity of the waste, with full accessibility of information for the general public, and urged for necessary precautionary measures to be taken immediately.

The experts also called on the mining company Vale to act in accordance with its responsibility to identify, prevent and mitigate adverse human rights impacts; to cooperate fully with authorities investigating into the disaster; and to provide for or cooperate in the remediation of harm caused through legitimate processes.

* Read Report of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises on its mission to Brazil here

* Office of the High Commissioner for Human RIghts https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Pages/Home.aspx

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