Mining Bill 2014 violates human rights, encourages corruption – Lobby Groups

Civil society groups in Kenya have raised a red flag on the proposed Mining Bill 2014 which they say will lead to compulsory acquisitions of land from communities in mining zones with limited access to judicial mechanisms.

According to a memorandum to parliament on the mining bill the Kenya Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas and Katiba Institute warn the proposed bill by the cabinet secretary provides for involuntary settlement with communities having no option of withholding consent from project.

The memorandum which has been presented to the parliamentary committee on natural resources now wants the committee to consider community interest while debating on the bill.

“The Equator Principles (EPs) are a voluntary set of standards for determining, assessing and managing social and environmental risk in project financing. The EPs are considered the financial industry gold standard for sustainable project finance. We propose that these principles be embedded in the drafting of provisions on relocation and resettlement. They spell out mechanisms for companies in the Resettlement and Livelihood Restoration while encompassing displacement to not only include physical displacement but also economies displacement,” Reads part of Memorandum as seen by OilNews Kenya.

The groups also want competitive bidding included in the Bill says it is the best practice in most countries as it reduces corruption by government officials.

“The officials are subsequently vulnerable to corrupt to corrupt incentives from companies to offer licenses to entities either at uncompetitive rates or to entities incapable of exploiting the resources. In some cases instances prequalification of bidders ensures that only those with technical and financial capacity are awarded licenses.”

The civil groups add that by compelling government departments to acquire the necessary Geodata eliminated the often overestimation by exploring companies placing the government in a better bargaining position.

Kenya Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas and Katiba Institute cite other countries including neighbors Zambia, Tanzania as well as Algeria and Philippines which have chosen auctioning and competitive bidding to promote transparency and governance.

“Overall the mining license should provide the regulator with a tool to discourage speculation through minimum work requirements, ensure social and environmental protection and provide for sharing of benefits between the company and the host country.”

Lastly the groups want the bill to ensure participation, including the free, prior and informed consent of communities as the 2012 the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ rights (ACHPR) resolution recommends.

“It is important that the Mining Bill 2014 takes cognisance of the continent wide shift and ensure that processes are put in place for; i) the cascading of information from national level processes to local level. The process must include process of informing local communities in the area of concession. ii) Getting community responses to proposed mining activities iii) Factoring in community concerns and consent. This is currently a gap existing in that local communities are not aware of concessions issued, acreage covered and their rights.”

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