UK authorities must launch a long-overdue criminal investigation into a British company’s role in one of the worst toxic waste dumping incidents of the last decade, Amnesty International said today after the Environment Agency finally agreed to review evidence submitted by the organization.
It took the threat of court action for the agency to backpedal from its earlier refusal to review a legal brief making the case that UK-based Trafigura Limited may have conspired to dump the toxic waste in Côte d’Ivoire.
The August 2006 incident triggered an environmental and health disaster in Abidjan: at least 15 people are reported to have died, more than 100,000 sought urgent medical assistance and contamination still lingers despite extensive clean-up.
“Refusing to investigate Trafigura’s role in what was a devastating crime showed contempt for the UK’s international human rights obligations. The glaring absence of any deterrent gives UK-based corporations a green light to commit serious abuses abroad,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.