Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to hold landmark hearing on extractive industries, rights, and climate change in the Caribbean

Environmental justice – and climate justice – and related human rights issues are pushing themselves further and further forward in the regional agenda. On October 8, the United Nations Security Council recognized, for the first time, that having a clean, healthy and sustainable environment is a human right.” High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet stated:

“We must build on this momentum to move beyond the false separation of environmental action and protection of human rights. It is all too clear that neither goal can be achieved without the other.”

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, October 8, 2021

You can read High Commissioner Bachelet’s full statement here.

Land destroyed by bauxite mining in St. Ann. (Photo: Wendy Lee)

TOMORROW (Wednesday, October 26, 2021) at 2:00 p.m. (EST), the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will hold a landmark virtual hearing on The Impact of Extractive Industries on Human Rights and Climate Change in the Caribbean during its 181st Period of Sessions. The hearing was requested by Malene Alleyne, Jamaican human rights lawyer and Founder of Freedom Imaginaries, and Esther Figueroa, Jamaican environmental filmmaker. Figueroa is co-founder of the Global Extraction Film Festival, now in its second year (I interviewed her for Global Voices here). Nearly ninety organizations and individuals across the Caribbean have co-signed the request.

The public can follow the hearing live on the following IACHR platforms:
Zoom: https://cidh-org.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_SHyMdmj2SNSp0HAoOmw-7g
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CIDH.OEA/live
YouTube: http://youtube.com/ComisionIDH
Twitter: @CIDH

The IACHR is a principal and autonomous organ of the Organization of American States whose mission is to promote and protect human rights in the American hemisphere.

Residents of Cockpit Country stand in protest on the roads hacked out by the bauxite company. “We want clean drinking water” says one placard.” (Photo: Wendy Lee, March, 2016)

Here are further details:

October 16, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:

Malene Alleyne, Freedom Imaginaries, malene@freedomimaginaries.org

Esther Figueroa, Vagabond Media, vagabondmedia1@mac.com

Kingston, Jamaica – On October 26, 2021, at 2:00 p.m. (EST), the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will hold a landmark virtual hearing on The Impact of Extractive Industries on Human Rights and Climate Change in the Caribbean during its 181st Period of Sessions. The hearing was requested by Malene Alleyne, Jamaican human rights lawyer and Founder of Freedom Imaginaries, and Esther Figueroa, Jamaican environmental filmmaker. Nearly ninety organizations and individuals across the Caribbean have co-signed the request.

The hearing will focus on the impact of the mining and fossil fuels industries on the economic, social, cultural and environmental rights of women, Indigenous, Afro-descendent, and rural communities in the Caribbean.

“The urgency of this hearing cannot be overstated,” says Alleyne. “Extractive industries are fueling ecocide and widespread human rights violations in the Caribbean with little to no accountability. Major threats include the climate crisis, the contamination of ecosystems, the erosion of food and water security, and the devastation of rural livelihoods and traditional ways of being. We urgently need rights-based, earth-centered alternatives for post-colonial development in the region,” says Alleyne.

“We need to try all available strategies to stop extraction in the Caribbean. On the ground resistance by communities is crucial. Constitutional legal challenges and appeals to international human rights mechanisms like the IACHR are also important methodologies to pursue. If we help create legal and moral precedence, that will be great”, says Figueroa.

The delegation to the IACHR will be one of the most diverse to appear from the Caribbean, with representatives from five states. In addition to Alleyne and Figueroa from Jamaica, the delegation also includes Immaculata Casimero and Janette Bulkan from Guyana, Samuel Nesner from Haiti, Gary Aboud and Lisa Premchand from Trinidad and Tobago, and Kirk Murray from The Bahamas.

This hearing comes just weeks after the UN Human Rights Council, for the very first time, recognized that having a clean, healthy and sustainable environment is a human right and also established a Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Climate Change.

Communities affected by bauxite mining have been complaining over the conditions they endure for many years. This is a 2011 photograph of residents of Stepney, St. Ann, protesting damage to their farmlands and health conditions. That is ten years ago. Has very much changed? (Photo: Alesia Edwards/Jamaica Observer)

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