Jun 12, 2009
Hanoi - Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung is facing a lawsuit over controversial bauxite mining projects, a lawyer said Friday.
’I decided to take legal proceedings against him because he is breaking four law codes,’ said Cu Huy Ha Vu, who filed the lawsuit on Thursday.
The prominent Vietnamese lawyer said the government decision to approve the mining plans broke laws on environmental protection, national defence and security as well as cultural heritage.
’The Vietnamese constitution says every citizen is equal before the law, so once the PM or general secretary [of the communist party] breaks the law, they need to be punished by the law,’ he said.
Vu said based on Vietnamese law, the decision could not be signed until an environmental report had been made, but this was yet to be compiled.
National defence laws state all plans to develop the economy in important regions such as the Central Highlands must be assessed by the Ministry of Defence in coordination with an authorized agency, a regulation also ignored by the decision, the lawyer said.
Exploitation of bauxite in large areas of the Central Highlands will likely lead to the displacement of many ethnic minority people, therfore the bauxite plan must also be approved by the Ministry of Culture, he added.
Deputies to Vietnam’s National Assembly said projects worth more than 20 trillion dong (1.2 billion dollars) need the body’s approval. The bauxite project is worth much more, but the government did not submit a proposal to the assembly.
Vietnam’s bauxite reserves are among the world’s largest at an estimated 8 billion tons.
Bauxite is extracted from open-pit mines, requiring replacement of topsoil before the land can be reforested or used for agriculture. The refining process creates large amounts of caustic red slurry, which must be contained so as not to pollute water sources.
Critics said geological factors make it hard to contain such waste in the Central Highlands and worry that pollution would affect the local coffee and cacao industries as well as damage rainforests, wildlife and the social fabric of the region’s indigenous ethnic minorities.