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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Human rights under severe attack at coal mines in Karonga-MHRC report reveals


The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has released a scathing report regarding the human rights violations caused by Hara and Lisikwa Coal Mines in Karonga District.

In the report which was led by Commissioner Grace Malera, who was accompanied by Commission’s Executive Director, Habiba Osman, MHRC says the company has failed to provide and monitor and enforce compliance to basic human rights tenets as the activities of the two companies are kin to brazen criminality for failure to provide necessary tools that could prevent prevent their working force from being subjected to hazardous environment.

In the report, the commission found that the companies have no policies on safety, safeguarding and sexual harassment in their mines. It was was also noticed that the there no safety nets to protect workers from coal which contains deadly carbon that produced poisonous gases.

The report also details that the two companies women who were crushing coal were not putting on protective gear such as masks. It was also revealed that the companies have no insurance for their working force. Their actions are contrary to 13(d) and 31(1) and (2) of the Constitution on obligations to protect the environment and ensure a good standard of living through a healthy living and working environment.

Further to that, the companies have also been faulted for for unfair labour practices as the companies do not compensate their workers for injuries or deaths caused in the line of duty. It was also discovered that the companies are paying below minimum wage as prescribed by government. They are paid K14,000 per month which is unfair labour practice.

However the Commission has recommended that Workers Unions must be established, that MHRC in conjunction with CCJP should facilitate training of the mining committees, all disputes must be resolved through contact and dialogue among others.

The extractives sector has historically been a high-risk profession, characterized by hazardous working conditions. It is also a male-dominated industry, with women facing discrimination in hiring and daily operations. The sector even at international level continues to infringe on the right of workers to form unions and participate in collective bargaining.

Mining firms have often put human rights issues on altar in pursuit of profit while government has been very weak in enforcing the relevant laws due to corruption within the echelons of power

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