The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) published a report where it claimed that human rights violations are rampant in Balochistan’s coal mines. The report estimated that every year, hundreds of colliers die in avoidable incidents, with many more incidents that go unreported.
The HRCP launched a fact-finding mission to investigate the alleged human rights violations in coal mines in Machh and Soranj. The mission, comprising HRCP officials, journalists and activists, visited different mining sites and held meetings with contractors, workers, mine owners and labour unions.
After months-long investigations, the HRCP released its fact-finding report titled “Beneath the surface: Rights violations in Balochistan’s coal mines.”
The report concluded that a large number of colliers die every year in Balochistan’s mines in avoidable incidents. The report further said that numerous miners suffer lifelong crippling injuries in these incidents.
Detailing the various factors contributing to the rampant accidents in coal mines, the HRCP report recommended that the government should increase the number of qualified and trained security inspectors to oversee the mines, increase the frequency of security inspections and ensure that the safety standards are properly met.
The report recommended the contractors and mine owners provide ambulance and other healthcare services to the miners, provide first aid treatment facilities at the coal mines and maintain a 24/7 internal security inspection mechanism to ensure the safety of colliers working deep within the mines.
The report further recommended that the tunnels and passages into the mines should be built with proper care to avoid methane gas leaks.
The report also recommended that the colliers working in the coal mines must be registered with and entitled to the Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Institution so that they can access welfare funds. Migrant workers must be treated and paid equally as the native workers, the report said.
The report suggested the government promote the mining sector to the status of the industry so that the mine owners and contractors could be held accountable under the Mines Act of 1932. The government must also focus on introducing safe and efficient technologies in mining so that the safety of colliers could be ensured.