A joint review panel has determined that Amnesty International will be among a number of public interest organizations that will have the opportunity to make presentations to the upcoming environmental Impact assessment of the proposed “New Prosperity” gold and copper mine in central British Columbia.
Amnesty International will comment on Canada’s obligations under international human rights law to respect and uphold the land rights of Indigenous peoples in the licensing of resource extraction projects.
The opportunity to present our analysis to the panel is significant for a number of reasons.
In June, the British Columbia Court of Appeal upheld an earlier decision recognizing that the Tsilhqot’in people have Aboriginal land use rights in the territory. The Tsilhqot’in are continuing to pursue legal recognition and protection of their title or ownership of lands and resources in the territory.
In 2010, a similar mine proposal by the same company was rejected by the federal cabinet on the basis of an environmental impact assessment that found that found that the mine would cause significant, unavoidable and irreparable harm.
The review of the revised proposal will be one of the first joint federal-provincial impact assessments to be carried out since changes were made to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act earlier this year that potentially severely restrict the scope and nature of such assessments.
Amnesty International has previously commented about this case that, “The right of Indigenous peoples to maintain their way of life – and not be deprived of their means of subsistence – is not simply one factor among others, to be considered or discounted at the discretion of government. These are fundamental human rights that are given the highest standard of protection in international law, just as Canadian courts have said that protection of Indigenous rights is ‘an underlying constitutional value’ and ‘a matter of national honour.’”