Colombian community refutes Cerrejón human rights allegations

Image: Cerrejón

A British law firm’s effort to save the Indigenous community of Provincial in the La Guajira region of Colombia from the alleged impacts of the Cerrejón coal operation has backfired.

The Indigenous community of Provincial stated in its press release translation that it never had a legal relationship or representation from the barrister Monica Feria-Tinta.

It also rejected any relation to the Lawyers’ Collective José Alvear Restrepo that represented the London-based law firm, Twenty Essex.

The Cerrejón coal mine, equally owned by BHP, Anglo American and Glencore, was accused of placing the community at health risks and in water scarcity for resuming operations during COVID-19.

“… According to Wayuu customs, communities are represented by their governing council and traditional authorities,” it stated, adding that it had communicated its refusal to work with the attorneys.

“The Provincial community declares that at no time has it submitted an ‘urgent request for intervention by the UN Special Rapporteur on the subject of human rights obligations,’ as the London law firm Twenty Essex stated in a statement.

“When presenting this type of request, this group intends to usurp the legitimacy, autonomy and free determination of the provincial communities and their hierarchical internal order without any power, mandate or authorisation from our community.”

The community pointed out that the complaints brought to the UN agency only represented the position of two families.

It is currently in direct communication with Cerrejón to address the concerns of the mine’s proximity, which it declared as its preferred way of resolving differences.

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