Human Rights and Legal empowerment program focuses on ensuring human rights of miners and mining affected communities are protected. The program aims to support local small scale mining community’s activism through recognition and articulation of their legal, economic and social rights. The program has been successful in bringing systematic human rights abuses in the mining sector (including arbitrary arrest, detention, physical harm, sexual abuse and killings) to national attention through media campaigns and parliamentary engagement.
The mining industry is central to the economies of many developing countries. At the same time, this industry often gives rise to human rights problems so serious that they can devastate vulnerable communities. In a resource-rich Africa, natural resource exploitation and extraction is a fast-growing industry and interactions with communities living in or around project, affected areas are unavoidable. The initial promotion of foreign trade and investment in Tanzania did not come with equitable corporate social responsibility. Mining activities are affecting peoples’ access to and ownership of land, their right to a healthy environment, and to a decent livelihood. Destruction of property, deaths, physical injuries, and environmental degradation are a direct result of harmful mining practices. These primary violations in turn lead to secondary harms with long-lasting consequences, often leaving people unable to realise other human rights, especially economic, social and cultural rights. Loss of housing and livestock, destruction of livelihoods, and lack of access to education (especially for children and young people), are common experiences in poor mining effected communities. This situation is exacerbated by the lack of social services and facilities in poor remote communities.
Human rights violations happen to small scale miners and communities around mining areas because:
Poor Tanzanians are often unaware of their rights and rarely have the skills or resources to address this.
To mislead them into forfeiting their rights use ignorance of people about their rights, poor illiteracy, and poverty.
Mining laws and governance arrangements are often inconsistent and do not reflect the needs of local communities.
The culture within the public sector is not focused on securing community interest or on modern public administration practices.
Large mining investors exercise substantial political influence.