By ANAYO OKOLI
UMUAHIA—IN an effort to educate oil producing communities on the hazards occasioned by the activities of oil companies, a non-governmental organization, CLEEN Foundation, recently organized a workshop for the rural people on how to relate with the companies in their areas.
They were also sensitized on the need for the oil companies to maintain good records of human rights in their host communities.
CLEEN Foundation said these could be achieved through the “Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.” The Voluntary Principles project essentially states that extractive companies should conduct risk assessments at the locations/areas they intended to carry out operations with a view to mitigating the risk factors.
The principles further stated that companies should also, on regular basis, conduct risk assessment to ascertain security risks and likelihood of human rights abuses before commencing operation in such area.
The programme officer, CLEEN Foundation, Mr. Ifeanyi Anyanwu, who addressed the participants, identified three elements of the project to include ‘’risks assessment, interaction with public security, and interaction with private security.’’
According to him,”Companies must have the interest to ensure that actions taken by security operatives are consistently in line with the protection and promotion of human rights. In order to mitigate risks of human rights abuses and promote respect for human rights, there are certain guidelines expected of any extractive company to follow regarding security provision in the company.
“One of the guidelines expected of any extractive company to respect is security arrangement. Extractive companies should consult the host government and communities about the impact of the security arrangements on the host communities.
“In adhering to the ethical conduct and human rights policies, companies should communicate their policies to public security and stress the need for the security providers to adhere strictly to the policies; the type and number of public security deployed to the companies/ facilities should be proportional to the threats; companies should organize meetings with public security personnel on regular basis to deliberate on security and human rights”.
Anyanwu also said that companies should facilitate interface with civil society organizations and host government to discuss human rights issues as it affects the communities just as he said that they should show high level of accountability and transparency by recording and reporting allegations of human rights abuses by public security in their areas of operations to appropriate host government, and monitor to investigate for proper resolution.