Human and socioenvironmental rights organisations sent a condemnation to the UN (United Nations) on Tuesday 5 January, on the failures and omissions of the Brazilian state and the mining company, Vale that led to the collapse of a tailings dam containing toxic waste, in Brumadinho (Minas Gerais). At the time of closure of this note, there were 134 fatal victims and another 199 people were still missing.
The document, signed by Conectas, Clínica de Direitos Humanos da UFMG (Federal University of Minas Gerais) and MAB (Movement of People Affected by Dams) stresses that Vale and the public authorities “failed to take proper action to prevent new catastrophic failures” subsequent to the disaster in Mariana in November 2015.
The organisations outline seven urgent measures that should be adopted by the United Nations together with the Brazilian government to prevent irreparable damage. Among them: a request for information on the emergency measures undertaken so far and future plans; action taken to prevent contamination of the São Francisco River; monitoring water quality and transparency regarding the level of toxicity of the waste in the mud.
In addition, the institutions are demanding true participation of the communities that have been affected, in the whole of the reparation process.
“In such case, the negotiation and the governance of this mechanism should not follow the same pattern as the one created to remedy the Doce river disaster, in which the companies hold an unreasonable degree of power to decide who is affected, what are the losses entitled to remedies, and what remedies will be provided.” the document says.
The document was sent to Special Rapporteurs, Baskut Tuncak (implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes), Léo Heller (human right to safe drinking water and sanitation), John Knox (the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment) and Dante Pesce (President of the UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business organisations).