Human Rights

Human rights panel will hear case claiming US regulators violated Navajo tribe’s rights: report

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A group representing Navajo communities reportedly filed testimony and exhibits on Thursday as it prepares to present its case involving uranium contamination to an international human rights body.

The group will assert to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that U.S. regulators violated the rights of tribal members by permitting uranium mining in New Mexico, The Washington Post reported.

Though uranium mining has been banned in the Navajo Nation since 2005, the petition claims that the human rights of Indigenous people were neglected after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission allowed Hydro Resources, Inc. to operate in situ leach mines, according to the Post.

The Navajo group’s petition requests that the mining license be revoked or not renewed, in addition to the government agreeing to respect the culture and laws of the Navajo community and presenting a remediation plan. 

“Our filing today is crucial for the protection of our Diné communities, our people, our homeland, and our culture,” director of the group Jonathan Perry said, according to the Post. “We will stand for our human rights and not allow our value as Indigenous People to be diminished. The federal government must realize that we are not disposable and that water is life.”

The Post reported that uranium mining has brought death, disease and contamination to the Navajo community, with hundreds of abandoned mines and radioactive waste yet to be cleaned up.

Earlier this year, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights decided that a petition filed years ago by the Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium was admissible, and a hearing is expected to take place in the spring, the Post reported.

This case marks the second time that the panel has admitted an environmental justice case against the United States. The first involved Mossville Environmental Action Now after high cancer rates were found in some of Louisiana’s poor communities, the Post added.

The Hill has reached out to Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez for more information.

Tags Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Navajo Nation New Mexico uranium mining
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