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Toxic waste: UN human rights expert announces his first official visit to Kazakhstan


GENEVA / ASTANA (23 March 2015) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Baskut Tuncak will visit Kazakhstan from 26 March to 8 April 2015 to assess the country’s human rights record regarding the management of hazardous substances and wastes.

“The realisation of several human rights, including the right to life, the right to health, the right to information and participation, and the right to just and favourable working conditions, depend on the sound management of hazardous substances and waste,” Mr. Tuncak said announcing his first official mission to the country.

“I will examine how Kazakhstan has managed hazardous substances and wastes in light of their human rights obligations,” said the independent expert charged by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor, report and advise on the human rights implications of hazardous substances and wastes worldwide.

During his 14-day visit, the expert will gather information on the government’s policies and programmes, listen to victims’ testimonies, identify good practices, and discuss business activities relevant to protecting and respecting human rights implicated by hazardous substances and wastes.

“My special attention will be given to certain populations, including children, women and workers, who are particularly susceptible to the adverse effects of hazardous substances and wastes,” Mr. Tuncak said.

The expert, who is visiting the country at the invitation of the Government of Kazakhstan, will meet with representatives from the national Government, as well as with local government officials, business representatives, civil society and community organizations and residents, in Astana, Almaty, Atyrau, Ust-Komenogorsk and Karaganda. He will also meet with representatives of the international community and UN officials.

“I am looking forward to the opportunity to discuss with the authorities and civil society of Kazakhstan the human rights issues relevant to my mandate and how to prevent, mitigate and remedy the potential impacts of hazardous substances and wastes on the rights of people in Kazakhstan,” he stated.

At the end of his mission, Mr. Tuncak will share with the media his preliminary findings at a press conference on 8 April at 12.30 at the United Nations Building in Astana at Bukeykhan Str., 26. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.

The Special Rapporteur will submit a comprehensive report on the human rights assessment in relation to the management of hazardous substances and wastes of Kazakhstan, to the UN Human Rights Council, which will include his findings and recommendations to the Government of Kazakhstan.

Mr. Baskut Tuncak (Turkey) was appointed Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes by the UN Human Rights Council in 2014. Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Environment/ToxicWastes/Pages/SRToxicWastesIndex.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. For more information check: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx

OHCHR Country Page – Kazakhstan: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/KZIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact:
In Astana(during the visit):
Soo-Young Hwang, (+41 79 201 0122, +7 701 524-06-65/shwang@ohchr.org) or
Leila Duisekova (+7 7172 69-65-50/leila.duisekova@undp.org)

In Geneva (before and after the visit):
Soo-Young Hwang (+41 22 917 9325/shwang@ohchr.org) or Ahreum Lee (+41 22 917 9391/alee@ohchr.org) or write to srtoxicwaste@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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Check the Universal Human Rights Index: http://uhri.ohchr.org/en