Sierra Leone Must Ensure Rights of People Around Meya Mine – Amnesty

Amnesty International has said the Sierra Leone government must continue to ensure that the human rights of people living close to the diamond mine exploited by Meya Mining in eastern Kono district are protected. The organization also urged Meya Mining to fulfil its commitments to respond to community concerns.

According to Amnesty International, a delegates conducted research in the Kono district on the impact of Meya Mining’s mining activities between 2018 and 2021. The research revealed several concerns, including unsafe water in boreholes constructed by Meya, dangers to communities living in the vicinity of the mine, and other violations of the socio-economic rights of local people.

“After Amnesty International raised these concerns with the Sierra Leonean authorities and Meya Mining, Amnesty International received the company’s reply in August 2022 to outline the measures it has taken to consult neighboring communities, and prevent any harmful impacts from its mining operations, such as water pollution. To date, Amnesty International has not received a substantive response from the Sierra Leonean authorities.

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“The authorities must ensure that all issues raised have already been addressed. Although, on 9 August, the Sierra Leonean Parliament passed the Mines and Minerals Development Act 2022, which aims to improve the welfare of communities affected by future mining exploration, the government of Sierra Leone must ensure that anyone whose human rights have been violated by any mining company has access to justice, an effective remedy mechanism and reparations”.

Amnesty International’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Samira Daoud says international human rights norms, including the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, clearly state that communities must give their prior consent for all forms of resource exploitation on their traditional lands and must also benefit accordingly.

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“In 2018, Amnesty International started research into mining activities in Kono District. According to the testimonies collected by Amnesty International, many residents claimed that they were not engaged in a process of genuine consultation before the mining operations began.

“Amnesty International is also concerned that no sufficient steps were taken to ensure the safety of the mine sites despite their proximity to local communities including children”.

Reacting to the concerns raised by Amnesty International, Meya Mining said it had taken measures to mitigate some of the impacts of diamond mining.

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