DR Congo: Cobalt, Copper Mining Expansion Leads to Forced Evictions, Human Rights Abuses

Innoventia Africa – A new report by Amnesty International and a Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) based organization, Initiative pour la Bonne Gouvernance et les Droits Humains (IBGDH) has found that the expansion of industrial-scale cobalt and copper mining in the DRC has led to the forced eviction of entire communities and grievous human rights abuses, including sexual assault, arson, and beatings.

The report, “Powering Change or Business as Usual?”, details how the scramble by multinational companies to expand mining operations has resulted in communities being forced from their homes and farmland.

“People are being forcibly evicted, or threatened or intimidated into leaving their homes, or misled into consenting to derisory settlements. Often there was no grievance mechanism, accountability, or access to justice,” Donat Kambola, president of IBGDH, said.

Candy Ofime and Jean-Mobert Senga, Amnesty International researchers and co-authors of the report, said: “We found repeated breaches of legal safeguards prescribed in international human rights law and standards, and national legislation, as well as blatant disregard for the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.”

The report also found that companies were failing to meet their responsibilities under international human rights law and standards, and national legislation.

It called on companies to immediately halt all forced evictions and to ensure that any resettlement is done in a way that respects the rights of those affected. It also urged the DRC government to take steps to protect the rights of communities affected by mining.

The report’s findings are a stark reminder of the human cost of the global demand for cobalt and copper. The DRC is home to the world’s largest reserves of these minerals, which are essential for making electric cars and other clean energy technologies. But as the demand for these minerals grows, so too does the risk of human rights abuses.

The average electric vehicle battery requires more than 13kg of cobalt, and a mobile phone battery about 7g. Demand for cobalt is expected to reach 222,000 tonnes by 2025, having tripled since 2010.

It said that the findings were “a call to action for all those who are concerned about the human rights impact of the global demand for cobalt and copper.” They urged companies to take urgent action to address the abuses, and called on the DRC government to ensure that its laws and regulations are enforced.

The report’s findings come at a time when the global demand for cobalt and copper is increasing. The DRC is a major supplier of these minerals, and the expansion of mining operations in the country is likely to continue.

It is important to ensure that this expansion does not come at the expense of the human rights of the people who live in the DRC. By taking action to address the abuses documented in this report, we can help to ensure that the transition to a clean energy future is just and equitable.

By Felix Tih

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