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Bhopal gas tragedy: “Financial compensation will never be sufficient without clean-up” – UN rights expert

GENEVA (24 November 2014) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and toxic waste, Baskut Tuncak, welcomed the announcement of the Indian Government to reconsider the official figures of people affected by the catastrophic leak of toxic gas in Bhopal in 1984, and provide additional compensation.

“However, financial compensation alone will not stop the ongoing human rights violations of Bhopal’s toxic legacy,” the human rights expert stressed. “New victims of the Bhopal disaster are born every day, and suffer life-long from adverse health impacts.”

Almost 30 years after one of the worst industrial accident in history, the soil and groundwater at the site of the old Union Carbide chemical factory in Bhopal remain contaminated despite the fact people live in and around the affected area.

“It is long overdue that action is taken to stop the ongoing violations,” Mr Tuncak said, emphasizing that the Indian Government has a human rights obligation to provide access to remedy.

The Special Rapporteur explained that prevention of harm is an essential component of an ‘effective remedy’ where remedy for toxic chemical pollution is required. “In order to prevent harm, environmental remediation is essential,” he said.

“Without cleaning the contamination, the number of victims of the toxic legacy left by Union Carbide will continue to grow, and, together, India’s financial liability to a rising number of victims,” Mr. Tuncak highlighted.

ENDS

Baskut Tuncak (Turkey) was appointed Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes by the UN Human Rights Council in 2014. Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Environment/ToxicWastes/Pages/SRToxicWastesIndex.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For enquiries and media requests, please contact Soo-Young Hwang (+41 22 917 9325 shwang@ohchr.org) or write to srtoxicwaste@ohchr.org.

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