Latin America Solidarity Centre

Press release: Activists in Ireland manifest support for Colombian legal action launched against ESB coal supplier Cerrejón

23rd February 2019

-For immediate release-

Human rights and environmental activists in Ireland publically manifested their support of a Colombian legal action against the Cerrejón coal mine, who supplies the ESB. In a photocall outside the headquarters of the mine’s sales company, Coal Marketing Company, in Dublin, the activists sent messages of support to indigenous and afro-descendent communities in La Guajira,Colombia who yesterday launched a landmark legal challenge against the Cerrejón coal mine.

 

Image: Activists outside the offices of the Coal Marketing Company, Fumbally Lane, Dublin, Thurs 21st Feb.

 

The lawsuit increases the urgency for the ESB to immediately divest from Colombian coal, according to the Latin America Solidarity Centre (LASC).  Sian Cowman, Coordinator of LASC, said:

“Ireland is complicit in the documented human rights violations inflicted on local communities by the Cerrejón mine, as the ESB imports this coal, and the mine’s global sales company is located in Ireland.  It is unacceptable that Irish taxpayers’ money is sponsoring the destruction of communities in La Guajira. The legal action launched in Colombia by communities in an attempt to safeguard their fundamental rights stresses the urgency of the ESB’s divestment from this blood coal.”

The legal action in Colombia challenges Cerrejón’s environmental license, and aims to hold the mine accountable for the humanitarian crisis in La Guajira, including the loss of food security, and lack of access to water that has caused the deaths of 5,000 children and malnutrition of 40,000.

Indigenous and Afrodescendent communities local to the mine have suffered a multitude of social and environmental impacts from the company’s devastating coal extraction practices for decades. 100% of the coal mined by Cerrejón is exported, and accounts for over 90% of the ESB’s coal energy production at Moneypoint power station, Co. Clare.

At the public launch of the legal action yesterday in Bogotá, Jakeline Romero, a community plaintiff from the local community of Paradero and the organisation Fuerza de Mujeres Wayúu, said:

“The Wayúu people are one of the communities that has been affected by the mine in terms of health, environment, access to water – our children are dying, they are sick, our women, and our life as a people is in danger. One of the greatest impacts is on our culture, and it’s an issue that isn’t really recognised as one of the most harmful impacts among the systematic human rights violations by the company.”

 

Image: Jakeline Romero (right) at the launch of the legal action in Bogotá on Friday 22nd Feb.

 

The lawsuit filed by affected communities is centred on the fact that the most recent modification to Cerrejón’s environmental license was carried out without the legally required Environmental Impact Assessment.

Furthermore, the inadequacy of Cerrejón’s environmental license amounts to “a breach of constitutional law, the State’s international treaties, and statutory regulations,” according to lawyer Alirio Uribe Muñoz from Colombian NGO CAJAR, one of the legal representatives in the case.

The lawsuit also requests an injunction to suspend any modification of the company’s environmental license that would allow an expansion of mining activities – which would effectively temporarily cease coal mining.

 

—ENDS—

For media enquiries:

Sian Cowman – siancowman@gmail.com; 083 403 1185