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2 Dec 2021


Bolivia: UN rapporteurs send Letter of Allegations about illegal use of mercury and its consequential environmental and human rights damages


"Mercury has catastrophic consequences on Bolivian indigenous peoples, UN experts say", 02 December 2021

...United Nations specialists have sent the Bolivian Government a “Letter of Allegations” after finding irregularities resulting from the unauthorized use of mercury which has brought up environmental and human rights consequences...

UN rapporteurs Marcos Orellana (toxic substances and human rights) and José Francisco Cali Tzay (rights of Indigenous Peoples) have signed the document in response to the complaint filed in August by the Bolivian Documentation and Information Center (Cedib), the International Pollutant Elimination Network (IPEN) in coordination with Reacción Climate.

The specialists have cited studies which showed high levels of mercury contamination in indigenous women between 18 and 44 years of age from the Esse Ejja indigenous group...These levels of mercury can cause brain damage, blindness, among other effects on the body...They also pointed out the implications of pollution in pregnant women...

The UN scientists have also found it alarming that Bolivia does not have specific and effective regulations to adequately control the importation, commercialization and use of mercury, in addition to the illicit traffic of mercury from Bolivia to other countries.

The letter also underlines the lack of effective regulation of mercury in Bolivia, which is directly linked to the extraction of gold...

The Bolivian State is allegedly not only in breach of the Minamata Agreement on mercury, signed in 2013, but also has presented contradictory information on the increase in the amount of gold mining in the country...