Mauritius: UN expert assesses hazardous substances and wastes

Geneva, October 25, 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.

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