By: Hermawansyah, Swandiri Institute

As a policy dialogue forum, EITI involves 3 parties namely the State, the Business Community & Civil Society. Can EITI encourage improvements in state policies, strengthen business ethics, or can it ensure that extractive industries do not usurp the rights of local communities and damage the environment? Because the policies and governance of extractive industries in each EITI member country are certainly different.

Respect for human rights, the environment, and the rights of indigenous and local communities in Indonesia and the Philippines are different from countries in Africa and Latin America. In Indonesia and the Philippines, there is a ‘Go and No Go Zone’ policy, while in Latin America especially Peru there is none. In Indonesia, cases of environmental damage also have a dimension to human rights violations because the right to a healthy environment is a human right. That is why in Indonesia many cases of environmental destruction are reported and handled by KOMNAS HAM.

The Cerro De Pasco Case
The choice of Peru as the host of the 2016 EITI Global Conference is certainly not without reason. Apart from being a member of EITI, Peru is also a country that has long experience in the extractive industry sector. Mainly in the Cerro De Pasco mining center area which is rich in mineral resources. Mining activities at Cerro De Pasco have been going on for more than one hundred years, even according to Wikipedia, silver has been found in the highlands of the Andean mountains since the 17th century. It is not surprising to visit Cerro De Pasco, we will find a center of mining activity in the middle of the city, and near once with a resident settlement.

Mine in the middle of the town of Cerro De Pasco
The long history of mining in Cerro De Pasco has left the community with no choice but to depend on mining operations. About 70 thousand Cerro De Pasco residents work in the mining company. Factually, mining in an area that has a height of 4,330 meters above sea level is something of a ‘gift’. Only a small number of people who want to change the economic situation then decided to move to Lima and other cities.

Environmental pollution
The main problem of mining activities at Cerro De Pasco is environmental pollution. There are many lakes used for excavation and washing of mining material which is a common sight there. Even though the water condition in the former mining lake is very severe. According to the leader of the local community we met, it was explained that if a bird drinks water in the lake, five minutes later it dies. This was confirmed by the results of laboratory tests that prove that the chemical content in the water of the former mining lake contained Arsenic.

Negligible Negotiations
In addition to environmental pollution, another crucial issue at Cerro De Pasco is mining activities in residential areas. The local government’s support for mining companies has weakened the position of the community in defending their rights. There is one community near the mining site that will even be relocated to a new place where the living facilities have been prepared by the company. The community has no choice but to accept the resettlement scheme. Information from the community, in fact, the local government has formed a kind of ‘commission’ to facilitate the resolution of the problem. There are three mandates given to the commission, namely: 1). Facilitating negotiations, 2). Provision of compensation, 3). Resettlement. However, until we visited the area, the commission had not carried out its duties.

Community Demands
Actually what is demanded by the community against the company is very reasonable because it involves the matter of basic needs such as health and education facilities. The community does not demand revocation of mining operation permits or compensation for environmental damage. But they only want to improve their quality of life. In fact, to convey their aspirations, a group of communities even willingly walked from Cerro De Pasco to Lima to get attention. In fact, there was no response and no action whatsoever from the government or the company to respond to the demands of these citizens.

EITI Standards?
Based on these findings, here are some things that should get the attention of the stakeholders in EITI Global:

  • Applying the principle of Free Prior Inform Consent / FPIC in the extractive industry business activities scheme.
  • Respect the right to a decent life for the local community.
  • Formulate a scheme to restore rights for local communities who have been deprived of their rights due to extractive industry activities.
  • Conduct an environmental audit of cases of environmental pollution.