The Human Rights Commission (HRC) is deeply disturbed at the tragic loss of lives at the Mining Slag Dump commonly known as Black Mountain in Kitwe on 20thJune 2018 and calls for compensation of families of the deceased in line with national and international human rights obligations and practices.
The Government has a primary obligation of ensuring that where human rights violations occur, including violations caused by Non-State Actors, victims of such violations must receive effective remedies or redress. In the case of the Black Mountain accident, the right to life has been violated and the Government must ensure that the families of the victims are compensated accordingly.
The Commission further calls for thorough investigations into the cause of the tragic accident in order to come up with comprehensive and sustainable best mining practices at the Black Mountain in order to protect human rights, particularly the rights to life and health.
The Commission has already dispatched a team of investigators to thoroughly investigate the circumstances and conditions that may have contributed to the tragic loss of lives and come up with comprehensive recommendations for the government’s action in relation to the operations of the Black Mountain in Kitwe on the Copperbelt Province.
The Commission is undertaking the investigation within the context of Zambia’s obligation to adhere to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which generally serve to enhance standards and practices in business operations in relation to respect for human rights.
It should be noted that mining of any scale or size is a sensitive and risk business which by its nature calls for enhanced adherence to the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, particularly safety and health conditions of those involved in its operations.
Although the Commission is yet to investigate the cause at the Black Mountain which resulted into a Black Tuesday through loss of lives and injuries, going by the numerous public safety concerns expressed prior to the accident, it can safely state that there is a prima facie case of inadequate safety standard measures contributing to the fatal accident.
It is therefore deeply regrettable that the right to life could not be protected by the key various stakeholders involved in the operations of the Black Mountain. The Government has a primary obligation of protecting human rights and, in this cases, it should have ensured that the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, particularly safety measures, were given primary consideration over anything else.
The Commission will continue and scale up stakeholders engagement and public awareness on Business and Human Rights in collaboration with the government which has the primary responsibility of promoting and protecting human rights.
[The Human Rights Commission is a National Human Rights Institution established under Article 230 of the Zambian Constitution (with an overall mandate and obligation of ensuring that the Bill of Rights is upheld and promoted]
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION