The number one issue for Armenia today should be the protection of the country's natural ecosystems, as "Forests of Armenia" NGO Chairman, Environmental Lawyer Nazeli Vardanyan said during the press conference held on July 7, 2021 at "Media Center". "If we lose this, we lose a country. We must completely rebuild our approach to nature and mining. We must bring the current mining industry into the legal field so that the state can benefit from it to the maximum, the damage to the environment is minimized, and human health is not harmed," she said.
She mentioned the lawsuits of about 70 residents of Chochkan and Mets Ayrum settlements, Lori Region, against "Akhtala Mining and Processing Plant" CJSC, where the residents demand to restore their violated right to health, privacy, and compensation for the damages caused.
"This is a very important precedent. If they succeed, they will have the confidence to defend their rights," she said. However, according to Nazeli Vardanyan, there is an obstacle.
“Legislative change is needed. Very often there is a desire, but people do not have the money to compensate for the services of lawyers, the tests for obtaining evidence are very expensive. The legislation should provide for public protection in cases of environmental damage and damage caused to human health, the burden of proof shall be vested not on the plaintiff, but on the opposite side.
Referring to the third article of RA Constitution, Nazeli Vardanyan noted, "It states that in Armenia, human beings are the highest value, the state guarantees the protection of human rights, human rights should be a priority for the government when making decisions, whereas these very human rights are generally ignored. "If human rights, health, nature are put on the scales, and business is on the other scale, human rights and the protection of its habitat should be heavier," she said.
According to Nazeli Vardanyan, amendments should be made in the legislation, so that the organizations that pollute the environment or affect human health through their activities should provide insurance for the population of the affected communities. "It will impact the increase in the company responsibility," she said.
According to the speaker, it is necessary to suspend the permits of new mines for at least 10-15 years. Referring to the speculations that the mining industry has a great role in the development of the country's economy, Nazeli Vardanyan mentioned, "The share of the mining industry in our GDP is 2.8%. For that 2.8%, we are damaging the environment where our priority industries are developing.”
July 09, 2021 at 15:47