GRAND CAPE MOUNT CO. – Human Right Defender Cllr. Margaret M. Nigba says Liberia’s quest for a revamped economy after 14 years of civil war has come with a cost to communities’ health, environmental, social, and political rights.
Cllr Nigba said considering the recent incident with Bea Mountain Mining Corporation (BMMC), whose activities resulted in a chemical spill of cyanide into the Mafa River-the only water source of ten communities in the region.
She indicated that this kind of situation has a detrimental impact including cutting off the basic human right of access to clean and safe water.
According to Cllr. Nigba, the lack of water and sanitation is affecting households as women and girls are unable to cook for their families – as is their expected gender role and responsibility in rural Liberia.
She stated that this results in domestic violence as the women are unable to meet their family duties.
In a press statement released recently, Cllr. Nigba said due to the lack of sanitation, women, and girls are forced to engage in exploitative activities to keep clean during their menses, plunging an already vulnerable constituency into menstrual poverty.
“The chemical pollution is also causing environmental degradation including the deaths of aquatic species. All these have a direct correlation with disruptions of reproductive, maternal, child, and adolescent health which will negatively impact the country’s morbidity and mortality rates.
“More so, income generating activities of women are also disrupted, forcing them to revert to economic dependency on their partners, which often perpetuates the vicious cycles of abuse and poverty”, according to rights defender.
She said that the actions of the Bea Mountain amount to violations of Article 16.2 and Article 25.1, of the Concession Agreement on Environmental Protections and Water Use both seeking reasonable preventative, corrective measures to limit pollution or contamination of streams, water bodies, and dry land surfaces and not to deprive any person of constant and reasonable supply of use of water from the utilized traditional source without replacing it, respectively, not to mention international and national legal instruments.
“Human rights organizations, Her Voice Liberia; and the African Platform for Human Rights and Governance, therefore strongly condemn these actions and call on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to hold the BMMC and other multinational companies that are engaging in similar exploitative extractive activities to the highest standard of the law”, the statement pointed out.
Additionally, the press statement reminds the Environmental Protection Agency that national and international laws that Liberia is a party to, on human rights, are in fact legally binding and not suggestive.
The Cllr. Nigba in the press statement notes that the EPA’s response to the crisis that pleaded with the offending Bea Mountain to right their wrongs, is inadequate and a betrayal of the people and the laws of the country.