UN rights expert: US must reverse dismantling of Bears Ears National Monument

UN rights expert: US must reverse dismantling of Bears Ears National Monument

A US presidential order decreasing [JURIST report] the area of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah is “outrageous” and should be reversed according to a UN rights expert.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples said [press release] Tuesday that the US should be increasing protections for sacred areas rather than reducing them.

The Bears Ears monument was created by the Obama administration and protected around 1.35 million acres of land. In December, President Donald Trump made a proclamation [proclamation] that cut the protected land down to just over 200,000 acres and divided it into two disconnected sections—the Indian Creek and the Shash Jáa.

According to the UN expert, “[t]he decision to reduce the area included in the national monument by 85 percent is a huge setback for the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples. It exposes thousands of acres of sacred lands and archaeological sites to the threats of desecration, contamination and permanent destruction.” The withdrawal of federal protection over the land will reopen [Reuters] it to different land claims, allowing for more hard rock mining to take place.