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NZ Invests in Environment Destructn, Rights Abuse

Media Release - For Immediate Release

14 November 2006

NZ Government Invests in Environmental Destruction and Human Rights Abuses

The New Zealand Superannuation Fund is investing in US mining giant Freeport McMoRan despite questions over the company's human rights and environmental record in West Papua.

The Wellington West Papua Rights Group questions how the NZ public can take the Government's stated commitments to human rights and environmental sustainability seriously, when this investment clearly runs against their policy on ethical investment.

"The New Zealand public has a right to know where its funds are going and what they are supporting. Are environmental destruction and the suppression of the human rights now government policy?" said Wellington West Papua Rights Group member George Darroch.

Freeport McRoRan continues to be a significant supporter of the Indonesian government's occupation of West Papua, despite well documented and ongoing human rights abuses. The subsidiary mining company PT Freeport Indonesia has been implicated in supporting directly the Indonesian military (TNI) with significant financial assistance, and use of equipment, even as the military suppresses indigenous populations with violence. The company has not been held to account for its role in human rights abuses.

WAHLI, Indonesia's leading environmental organisation, has documented the environmental destruction caused by the operations of the mining company. The most serious is the daily discharge of over 200,000 tonnes of toxic tailings into the Ajkwa River, which have very severe impacts on the river, wildlife, and Arafura Sea. The company has been sued in the past, and is being threatened with legal action by the Indonesian Government for its illegal environmental destruction.

The Wellington West Papua Rights Group says the New Zealand Government should take their stated commitments to human rights and environmental sustainability seriously, and maintain a policy of ethical investment. "This has been done by some of the world's largest pension funds, including those of the Governments of South Africa and Norway, and there is nothing stopping it happening here" said George Darroch.

ENDS

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