Santos rejects allegations of human rights violations

Tiwi Islander and plaintiff Dennis Tipakallipa sitting on the beach looking out at the sea (santos barossa)
Tiwi Islander Dennis Tipakallipa (Image: Rebecca Parker)

Australian gas producer Santos has rejected allegations of human rights violations at its Barossa Gas project, Darwin LNG Life Extension project and Narrabri Gas project, Reuters reports.

The company said some of its investors and financiers received a letter from Equity Generation Lawyers, a law firm active in climate-related cases, on behalf of up to nine individuals, alleging breaches of human rights of Tiwi Island, Larrakia and Gomeroi people arising from its projects.

Related article: Tiwi Islander’s victory: Santos to vacate Barossa gas

The letter asked the financiers to exit loans and not proceed with any future approvals for the projects.

It asked the investors to “immediately begin to effectively exercise its leverage, on Santos to stop development of the Barossa, DLNG and Narrabri projects, or if this is not achieved within a reasonable time, divest”.

Santos said the claimants have “not sought to have their grievances determined or remedied in a court of competent jurisdiction where Santos could properly respond”.

Australian Indigenous people have deep spiritual connections to the Tiwi Islands and Larrakia country, and environmental groups have been campaigning for years against Santos’ $3.6 billion project off northern Australia.

Environmental and Indigenous groups have concerns that the project would disrupt their songlines, sacred sites and cultural practices.

Santos had to suspend drilling on the Barossa project, in September, after a judge found that an environmental approval was invalid because the company had not properly consulted the Munupi clan.

Related article: Korean bank pauses on Santos loan for Barossa Gas Project

“Santos’ comment that grievances are to be addressed in a court of competent jurisdiction is absurd. It fails to grasp that banks and super funds in Australia have committed to international human rights standards that may go beyond domestic law,” Equity Generation Lawyers said in a statement.

A group of Indigenous Australians lodged human rights grievances with a dozen banks in April, urging them to withdraw a $1 billion loan to Santos for its Barossa offshore gas project.

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