On 29 September 2020 the Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC, Melbourne) filed a complaint against mining giant Rio Tinto with the Australian Government on behalf of members of communities affected by the environmental legacies of the Panguna mine in Bougainville. More than 150 villagers signed the complaint which was handed in to the National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines on Business and Human Rights. The Australian OECD National Contact Point is based in the Australian Government’s Department of Treasury. It can investigate complaints made against Australian companies operating overseas, to issue findings and recommend actions if breaches of the OECD Guidelines have occurred.
The complaint alleges that Rio Tinto’s failure to clean up the Panguna environmental disaster breaches human rights and environmental standards set out in the OECD Guidelines. The complaint received broad coverage by Australian and international media. Rio Tinto clearly is feeling the pressure. Its management has announced that the company is ready to talk – something it had completely rejected over the last years.This is a remarkable change of tack.
PaCSIA welcomes the complaint against Rio Tinto and fully supports the mine affected communities and the HRLC in their efforts to hold Rio Tinto to account for the environmental catastrophe it left behind on Bougainville.
The HRLC’s statement on the complaint can be found here: https://www.hrlc.org.au/news/2020/9/28/bougainville-communities-file-human-rights-complaint-rio-tinto