Justice For All (Justice Pour Tous) is a Congolese organisation created on 7th April 1995. Its main office is located in Bukavu, in the South Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Justice for All’s raison d’être seeks to accompany vulnerable and marginalised communities through empowerment programmes for peace-building, restoration of socio-economic rights, access to basic healthcare services, sustainable protection of the environment and natural ecosystems, working towards the sound management of natural resources along with the fight against poverty.
Together with its “Environment and Natural Resources” programme and team of experienced researchers, Justice For All researches the inextricable link between poor governance of natural resources and poverty, monitors and reports violations of peoples’ rights linked to natural resources activities in concessions for artisanal and industrial mining.
The eastern province of the DRC is often victim to pillaging of natural resources through the exemption scheme of mining activities all of which have contributed to conflict within the region. The above mitigating factors have driven several stakeholders (including Justice for All) to intervene into the problem area in the hope of finding lasting solutions for the benefit of the most vulnerable communities. The goal of peace in the South Kivu region has, to date, not been reached. Mining operations within the region make the elites richer and the poor poorer. The reason for the status quo is explained by: mines which fall under the exemption scheme along with mining activities which fail to take into account the development of local communities living within the immediate vicinity of mining operations.
The issue of management of the DRC’s natural resources for the benefit of local communities is at the crux of Justice for All’s purpose. Justice For All recognises that affected communities are in dire need of awareness so they may be adequately equipped to exercise their rights and demand the same from extractive industries.
Relevance of Justice For All’s actions with the ACCA
Firstly, Justice for All research the socio-economic and environmental problems linked to industrial exploitation: the case of Twangiza Mining in the South Kivu region, DRC is a case in point. This research undertakes to: (1) assess the impact of industrial exploitation on local development and the social and economic implications (including: living conditions of the local communities, access to farm land for removed households, health and education). (2) Assess the environmental impact resulting from industrial mining activities (river diversion, river pollution caused by chemical products, wastewater management, soil degradation and emission of harmful gases such as cyanide).
Finally, researching the rights of local communities through assessing the impact of the subsidiary Twangiza Mining in Luhwindja in the Mwenga territory, South Kivu Province. Its main objectives include: (a) evaluating the impact of mentoring projects of former miners through subcontractors of Twangiza Mining in the South Kivu Province. (b) Analysing levels of managing environmental, social and economic responsibilities and consequences of industrial exploitation in Luhwindja. (c) Assessing compensation methods for removed households and (d) exploring the tax implications in the operational phase of Twangiza Mining.
Outcomes of the project
The impacts documented by the research teams through field visits along with the local communities’ grievances indicate that the socio-economic and environmental effects caused by the activities of the subsidiary Twangiza Mining in Luhwindja in the Mwenga territory South Kivu will have dire consequences for the future. The mining operations are inherently unsustainable notwithstanding the fact that these resources are non-renewable. These mining activities extract non-renewable resources through destructive and non-environmentally conducive methods which include: crushing, grinding, washing and classifying minerals, refining and smelting.
In the DRC’s mining sector, the Mining Code is the first piece of legislation which makes provision for environmental protection. The Code contains some good regulations there are, however, shortcomings. In addition, there are a number of regulations which are either ignored or simply not applied. This results in the poor implementation of the law which leads to increased environmental degradation in the mines and its surrounding areas. In addition, there has been an increase in deforestation to create space for mines and mining-related activities all of which has led to an imbalance in the ecosystem and the micro-climate of mining areas. Deforestation exacerbates erosion, landslides and land subsidence. Erosion issues are mainly linked to the construction or improvement of transport routes leading to and from the mines. The visual effects of the negative effects of these mining activities speak for themselves.
In conclusion, the problems resulting from the implementation of the Mining Code include, but are not limited to: issues of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), a lack of respect for the rights of local communities, environmental degradation, local communities airing their grievances regarding access to the mining property, problems resulting from the removal of communities, along with the implementation of sustainable development plans seeking to improve the social and economic well-being of the populations affected by mining projects both during and after these activities. Other problems include: financial compensation for the affected population when travelling from their homes to the mining sites, the lack of free, prior and informed consent local populations affected by mining projects as outlined in the Mining Regulation (article 452). Implementation issues of mitigation and rehabilitation plans outlined in the environmental plan or the cancelation of research activities and mining operations as outlined in articles 430, 451 and 452 of the Mining Regulation along with inadequate tax collection systems.
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