Speaking at a press briefing on his preliminary observations and recommendations following a two week assessment visit in Sierra Leone, Baskut Tuncak noted that he was able to visit mining communities in the country, including agricultural companies in Bo, Bombali, Kono, Pujehun and Moyamba Districts.
He noted intimated his audience that the cardinal objective of his visits to Sierra Leone was to have a comprehensive assessment and compliance to environmental impact assessment policies in line, best practice and to further ascertain the impact and management of hazardous substances in country.
According to him, children, women, persons with disability, aged, workers were at exposed to several human rights abuses due to poor management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes.
‘’In Sierra Leone I observed several impacts on human rights from hazardous substances and waste including Freetown largest waste dumping site,’ Tuncak stated.
He maintained that despite the visible evidences, the magnitude of the impacts of hazardous substances and waste on human rights in Sierra Leone largely remained unattended to.
The United Nations scribe pointed out that more needs to be done in the area of ensuring that citizens have the rights to information, raise awareness raising campaigns, ensure meaningful consultations and participation of communities in environmental decision-making process.
According the United Nations special rapporteur told journalists that citizens should have free access to justice and seek redress.
He said legal remedies were either unavailable or difficult to come by coupled with the lack of confidence of the country’s justices system.
In the bide to improve on the implementation of human rights against hazardous substances and wastes in Sierra Leone, the UN Rapporteur urged the government to speed up with the enactment of laws , and ensure the full participation and government ministries department and agencies across the country.
He also urged government to acknowledge the role of civil society organizations, the media and raise awareness on the adverse impact on human rights issues including hazardous substances and wastes.