The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is to be briefed on the effects of mercury contamination on indigenous peoples of Bolivia as a direct result of intensive mining, it was announced Friday.
The Documentation and Information Center of Bolivia (CEDIB) and the National Coordinator for the Defense of Indigenous Peasant Territories and Protected Areas (Contiocap) will participate in a specific hearing within the framework of the 183rd regular period of sessions of the IACHR through March 18.
During the hearing, both entities will present data on the impacts of gold mining in the country and the lack of regulation of mercury. According to several studies, the existence of mercury contamination of indigenous populations has been determined, in addition to the negative role of Bolivian authorities regarding illegal mercury trafficking, with its consequences on the life, health, and personal integrity of several native communities.
The hearing will include the participation of representatives of the State, who will be able to answer the IACHR Commissioners’ questions on this issue.
According to the CEDIB, the goal of the hearing is to inform the IACHR and the international community about the environmental crisis in Bolivia, due to the lack of regulation of gold mining and the illegal and irregular use of mercury, which entails impacts on the human rights of the Bolivian population, and also to increase international awareness on this issue.
The United Nations rapporteur on toxic substances and human rights, Marcos Orellana, will also submit his findings, it was announced. In December 2021, during an event organized by the CEDIB, the rapporteur stated that “Bolivia has become the center of mercury trafficking for illegal mining in other countries.”
The areas most affected by these mining activities and the irrational use of mercury are in the departments of La Paz, Beni, and Pando, where a large number of indigenous peoples live.