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Thursday, March 13, 2003

BP has been warned in a report by a panel of experts led by the retired US senator, George Mitchell, that it could trigger human rights abuses if it proceeds with a $2bn gas scheme in Indonesia.

"There is enormous potential for good but also a potential for an adverse effect, and this must be handled carefully," explained senator Mitchell at a first public briefing since delivering a report to BP.

Key recommendations from the report include:

* Implementing some form of community-based security.
* Helping to modernise the local fishing fleet to mitigate any "dislocations".
* Implementing healthcare services that help to prevent the 5,000 construction workers needed by the project from bringing HIV and other infectious diseases to local villagers.

Throughout the report concerns are expressed that separtist activities may disrupt exploitation of the Bintuni Bay's gas reserves, that the military + police have a history of intimidation, violence and worse + that the mechanisms needed to prevent high-level political corruption denying local communities access to the wealth generated by the scheme are not yet in place.