An internationally-recognised tribunal will begin examining evidence today on whether fracking breaches human rights.
The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal, established after the Vietnam War Crime Tribunals, is holding hearings on the question throughout this week.
For the first time, the tribunal hearings are entirely online.
An international panel of 10 judges will examine scientific reports and expert testimony along with evidence from people who believe their human rights are threatened by fracking.
The organisers said the investigation would focus mainly on the responsibilities of states to protect human rights. But they said fossil fuel corporations may be implicated in witness testimony.
The evidence is expected to cover impacts on human health, climate, ecology, as well as social costs and the ability of people to participate in decision-making.
After this week’s hearings, the judges will give an advisory legal opinion on key issues including:
- Under what circumstances do fracking and other unconventional oil and gas processes breach human rights protected by international law?
- Under what circumstances do these techniques warrant a judgement requiring further action, damages or some form of compensation for causing environmental harm?
- To what extent are states responsible for violations of human rights and environmental damage caused by these techniques?
Organisations from the US, Australia and Europe are scheduled to make submissions to the tribunal.
The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT), based in Rome, considers cases where evidence suggests there has been a breach of the basic rights of citizens. It acts independently of nation states and government.
One of the Tribunal’s early cases involved the leak of toxic gas from the Union Carbide plant at Bhopal in 1984. More recent sessions have examined the massacre of Tamils in Sri Lanka, agrochemical transnational corporations and the activities of the Canadian mining industry in Latin America.
PPTs have no power to compel people to attend hearings, give evidence or to enforce a judgement. But the Bhopal tribunal led to the adoption of the Charter on Industrial Hazards and Human Rights.
The sessions of the PPT on fracking begin at 5pm British Summer Time or 9am Pacific Time. Proceedings can be watched online within 30 minutes of the end of the sessions on the Spring Creek Project Facebook Page or You Tube channel.