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Toxic waste: UN human rights expert on mission to Kyrgyzstan



GENEVA (29 September 2009) -- The Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Human Rights Council on the adverse effects of the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights, Mr. Okechukwu Ibeanu, will visit the Kyrgyz Republic from 29 September to 9 October 2009 at the invitation of the Government.

During this visit, the Special Rapporteur will consider existing problems relating to the unsound management and disposal of hazardous products and wastes and their adverse effects on human rights, with a view to making concrete recommendations and proposals on adequate measures to control, reduce and eradicate these phenomena.

“I intend to focus on the significant threat that uranium tailings, obsolete pesticides and other hazardous waste pose to the lives of thousands of people living in Central Asia,” said Mr. Ibeanu. “Uranium tailings and other hazardous waste dump sites are often located in seismic areas, near dwellings and river banks. A natural or man-made disaster would have very serious, long-term consequences for the life and health of people living in the region.”

The UN independent expert also intends to study the measures adopted by the State to ensure access the right of affected communities to have access to information concerning the risks they are exposed to and to participate in decision-making processes aimed at minimising such hazards.

The Special Rapporteur will hold meetings with senior Government officials, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, representatives of the United Nations, academics and representatives of non-governmental organisations. Apart from the capital, Bishkek, Mr. Ibeanu will visit communities living in Orlovka, Kara-Balta and Kochkorka to assess the dangers that radioactive and hazardous waste storage facilities pose to local communities and the environment.

Based on the information collected during the visit, the Rapporteur will prepare a report and make recommendations on how to protect the human rights of peoples living in the region against the threats posed by existing uranium tailings and hazardous waste storage facilities. This report will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in 2010.

A press conference will be held on Friday 9 October 2009 at 9:30 at the News Agency “Kabar,” Bishkek.

Okechukwu Ibeanu, Professor of Political Science at the University of Nigeria, was appointed Special Rapporteur in 2004 by the Human Rights Council. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity.