Amnesty International on Monday urged participants in a mining conference in South Africa to address human rights violations.
African Mining Indaba, a conference centered on promoting the furtherance of the mining industry in Africa, is set to run from Monday through Thursday, but several civil organizations, including Amnesty, are holding their own conference for the eleventh time to bring attention to alleged human rights violations in the mining industry in Africa.
Amnesty Director for East and Southern Africa Deprose Muchena spoke Monday to say that both mining companies and those invested in the industry must take strong actions to address the industry’s many human rights abuses:
From child labour in the Democratic Republic of Congo to squalid living conditions for workers at South Africa’s Marikana mine, the mining industry is tainted with human rights abuses. Mining firms have often caused or contributed to human rights abuses in pursuit of profit while governments have been too weak in regulating them effectively.
Mining Indaba is the world’s largest mining investment conference, and Amnesty and its partner organizations say that it should be focused on addressing violations of human rights that have consistently plagued the industry. However, this year’s theme is “Optimising Growth and Investment in the Digitised Mining Economy.”
Amnesty brought attention to several different cases in particular, including an incident in which dozens of protesters were killed by the South African Police Service and have yet to see justice. Other violations involved fatalities from flash flooding in Mozambique that was likely caused by mining operations, and incidents in which military units were deployed in response to mining operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have also caused the deaths of dozens due to tunnel collapses.
Throughout Mining Indaba, Amnesty and its partner organizations will continue holding “Alternative Mining Indaba,” their counter conference, to bring “to the fore stories of injustice and socio-economic rights violations in mining communities, including in the DRC [Democratic Republic of the Congo], Mozambique and South Africa.”