UN working group demands independent investigation in Thoothukudi police firing

Chennai: The United Nations human rights experts on Friday demanded an independent investigation against Tamil Nadu police’s “disproportionate” and “excessive use of lethal force” against protestors demanding closer of the Sterlite copper plant in Thoothukudi. They have also called on Sterlite Industries and Vedanta Resources to take “immediate action” to mitigate pollution and ensure access to safe water and healthcare.

“The government should uphold the rights to freedom of expression and assembly, as they are the cornerstone of democratic societies and a critical tool to identify and protect against business-related human rights abuses,” said the group, led by Anita Ramasastry, chair of the UN Working Group on human rights and transnational organisations.

Expressing concern over the use of force against the force, the group asked documentation from judicial and administrative bodies of water contamination, air pollution and other forms of environmental degradation linked to the plant.

“Under UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, all business enterprises have a responsibility to respect human rights, including identifying, preventing, mitigating and accounting for how they address their adverse human rights impact,” they said

On May 22, 13 people died and around 102 were injured after police opened firing on protesters agitating against the expansion of the Sterlite Copper plant. Locals were protesting against the construction of the copper plant by the Sterlite Copper Minning Industries, claiming that it was polluting groundwater, and was hazardous for the environment.

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