- January 19, 2021
- Posted in LOCAL
In a bold call to curb abuse of children in the mining sector, a network of youths has urged parliament to push for progressive laws that promote increased participation of youths in the sector.
In a series of letters to authorities including Parliament, the network advocated for a progressive Mines and Minerals Act which they said will reinforce protection of environmental rights, strengthen education and create opportunities for youths to participate in decision making.
Operating under the banner of the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) Youth Network, the youths have written to the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) on impact of mining on the rights of children.
ZELA Youth Network has also requested that Parliament institutes an inquiry of issue of children’s rights infringement in the mining sector as only ‘isolated cases…are finding their ways into mainstream media and social media.’
“We are hereby calling for Parliament of Zimbabwe to exercise its representative, legislative and oversight functions to conduct inquiry on the issues of children’s rights infringement in the mining sector in Zimbabwe as a whole…to ensure that the rights of children are included in the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill.
“The Mines and Minerals Parliamentary Portfolio Committee must push for the adoption and implementation of child-sensitive environmental policies in the mining sector towards the realization of Section 73 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” the Youth Network said.
“The inclusion of well-versed environmentalists in parliament decision making can help determine the type of development, how best it can be conducted and the extent to which it should be done, improved public and medical health interventions to ensure safety of our children.”
The three separate letters, which this publication has in possession, also amplies an international call to action through a petition calling on the respect of the right to a healthy environment.
‘My Planet My Rights’ is an international petition motivated by ‘millions of children around the world’ suffering violations of their rights ‘to health, food, water, and other rights because of problematic government responses or inaction to environmental degradation and climate change’.
“We recommend that environmental management standards set should consider a child rights
based approach acknowledging dierence between children and adults, to cater for their inclusion
in policy formulation and decision making.
ZELA Youth Network said research has unearthed evidence across the mining value chain of the major issues including reports of sexual exploitation of children, child prostitution, drug and alcohol abuse, children being unable to attend school and environmental degradation that directly impacts children.
“…Mining continues to be a dangerous activity, whether large-scale industrial mining or small-scale artisanal mining.
“Not only are there accidents, but exposure to dust and toxins, along with stress from the working environment or managerial pressures, give rise to a range of diseases that affect both miners and inhabitants of mining host communities.
The youths also called on ZCDC to conduct human rights due diligence on the impact of their mining activities on human rights and environment, with a focus on ‘vulnerable groups like children who are most affected by the negative impacts. ’