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Mauritius: UN expert assesses hazardous substances and wastes

GENEVA (25 October 2021) – The UN Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights, Marcos Orellana, is undertaking an official visit to Mauritius from 22 to 29 October 2021 to assess the country’s human rights record in relation to hazardous substances and wastes.

A key focus will be the causes and aftermath of the oil spill from the Japanese bulk carrier vessel MV Wakashio off the coast of Mauritius from 25 July 2020. The spill has heavily affected local communities, already in a situation of distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I remain deeply concerned about the threat of devastating ocean pollution caused by the Wakashio incident,” Orellana said. “The oil spill has serious health, environmental and economic consequences.”

The Special Rapporteur will also review waste management and port facilities. “I am looking forward to getting deeper insights into solid waste management facilities and related challenges in Mauritius, including plastics management,” he said. “Another issue deserving particular attention will be assessing port reception facilities for handling ship-generated waste.”

The UN expert will meet representatives of the Government, local authorities and civil society, and will visit sites affected by the oil spill and meet affected communities.

“I look forward to receiving first-hand information about the day-to-day challenges faced by local communities as a result of exposure to hazardous substances and waste, and the direct implications on their rights to life, health, information, and to an effective remedy,” said Orellana.

“I am also eager to learn about solutions envisaged, or already implemented, to ongoing these challenges, and to provide advice and cooperation as needed, within the terms of my mandate.”

The Special Rapporteur will hold a news conference on 29 October 2021 at 3 pm local time in Port Louis where he will share his preliminary observations from the visit. He will present a comprehensive report with his findings and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2022.

ENDS

Mr. Marcos Orellana is the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes.

The report of the Special rapporteur on the Right to Science in the context of toxic substances can be consulted here https://undocs.org/A/HRC/48/61

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what are known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. The Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN human rights system, is the general name for the Council's independent investigative and monitoring mechanisms that deal with specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent of any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.

For additional information and media requests please contact the OHCHR Secretariat: Mr Gotzon Onandia Zarrabe (email: gotzon.onandiazarrabe@un.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit jeremy.laurence@un.org

Follow news related to UN independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts.

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