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Business and Human Rights

    February 03, 2017

    Adolfo Garcia (pictured, second from the left), is a quiet, serious middle-aged farmer from Guatemala. Once the Guatemalan government began issuing mining licenses in Santa Rosa, he dedicated his life to protecting the land and water for future generations of farmers and residents of his small town in south-east Guatemala.

    Adolfo has since experienced terrible injustice and violence. During a peaceful protest in 2013, Adolfo, his son, and five other men were shot and gravely injured outside a silver mine owned by Canadian company, Tahoe Resources. Adolfo’s then-teenaged son, Luis Fernando, was shot in the face, requiring extensive and painful reconstructive surgeries to enable him to breathe again. Adolfo and his wife nearly lost their family home to pay for the operations. 

    January 26, 2017

    A UK High Court ruling that two Niger Delta communities devastated by oil spills cannot have their claims against Shell heard in the UK could rob them of justice and allow UK multinationals to commit abuses overseas with impunity, Amnesty International said today.

    The High Court ruled today that Royal Dutch Shell cannot be held responsible for the actions of its Nigerian subsidiary Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd. This is despite the company having profited from decades of abuses and environmental destruction in the Niger Delta. The communities are expected to appeal.

    “The Ogale and Bille communities have been hit by multiple Shell spills, threatening their health and drinking water. The UN found groundwater contamination in Ogale was more than 450 times the legal limit – when Amnesty investigators went back four years later, Shell still hadn’t cleaned up the pollution. This ruling could mean that the communities will never receive meaningful compensation, and that the oil spills will be not be properly cleaned up,” said Joe Westby, Campaigner on Business and Human Rights at Amnesty International.

    January 23, 2017

    On Thursday 26 January the UK High Court will rule on whether two Niger Delta communities whose environment and livelihoods were destroyed by oil spills can have their claims against Shell heard in the UK. The case could set a precedent for holding other UK-based multinationals to account for abuses committed overseas.

    “This ruling will have wide-ranging implications for corporations based in the UK that abuse human rights abroad. If the court rules that the communities cannot have their case heard in the UK it would effectively be a green light for UK multinationals to profit from human rights abuses and environmental destruction around the world,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.

    Two separate legal actions have been brought against Shell on behalf of more than 42,000 people from the Ogale and Bille communities in Nigeria’s Rivers State, who live with appalling pollution caused by oil spills.

    December 07, 2016
    Peruvian water and land defender Máxima Acuña is one of 10 individuals and communities we're taking action for during Write for Rights on Saturday, December 10th, International Human Rights Day. Join Write for Rights to stand with Máxima! 

    Máxima Acuña is a water and land defender in Peru. She has survived years of harassment, intimidation and vicious beatings by police and mining company security personnel over her right to defend the environment and her home from a massive gold and copper mine.

    Her property shares a watershed with 4 lagoons that, if the company gets its way, would be drained and turned into tailings ponds. She has been forced into court to defend her family’s property rights to the land where they live and grow crops –and she has won. In September, she was beaten severely. It is staggering to comprehend the level of violence she has endured to defend her rights. 

    November 29, 2016

    ●       Unilever, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble among nine household names contributing to labour abuse

    The world’s most popular food and household companies are selling food, cosmetics and other everyday staples containing palm oil tainted by shocking human rights abuses in Indonesia, with children as young as eight working in hazardous conditions, said Amnesty International in a new report published today.

    The report, The great palm oil scandal: Labour abuses behind big brand names, investigates palm oil plantations in Indonesia run by the world’s biggest palm oil grower, Singapore-based agri-business Wilmar, tracings palm oil to nine global firms: AFAMSA, ADM, Colgate-Palmolive, Elevance, Kellogg’s, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, Reckitt Benckiser and Unilever.

    November 25, 2016

    Thanks to the actions of thousands of Amnesty International supporters around the world, Apple, Samsung, Sony and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce are launching The Responsible Cobalt Initiative. The Initiative aims to improve the lives of children and adults who mine cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

    Ten months ago, Amnesty International research brought to light serious human rights abuses, including child labour, in cobalt mines in the DRC. Read more

    Cobalt is used to power our cell phones, yet no cell phone companies were addressing the problem. So Amnesty International campaigned throughout the year for electronics companies including Samsung and Apple to take responsibility for human rights abuses in their supply chain. Thanks to the actions by human rights supporters, we are starting to see some progress. The Initiative is a welcome first step, but it is crucial that we see improvements on the ground.

    September 02, 2016

    By Erika Guevara-Rosas

    Chills ran down Tomás Gómez Membreño’s spine when he first heard about the brutal murder of his renowned friend and ally, the Honduran Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres, six months ago this week.

    A fellow environmental activist and second in command at the Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), Tomás feared he would be next.

    Berta’s work was widely and globally acclaimed and had earned her international awards - if someone could violate the sanctuary of her home and shoot her dead, it was too frightening to contemplate what could happen to any of the country’s lesser-known human rights defenders.

    Tomás also knew the hopes to have a proper investigation and to ensure the crimes against human rights defenders would not be repeated again were slim, in a country where authorities rarely condone attacks on activists.

    Tragically, he has a point.

    Six months after two armed men walked into Berta’s home one evening and murdered her in cold blood, Honduras has become a no-go zone for anybody daring to protect natural resources such as land and water from powerful economic interests.

    August 31, 2016

    Released Thursday 1 September 2016, 10:00 Tegucigalpa (16:00 GMT)

    An insidious wave of threats, bogus charges, smear campaigns, attacks and killings of environmental and land activists in recent months has made Honduras and Guatemala the most dangerous countries on earth for those protecting natural resources, Amnesty International said in a new report six months after the brutal murder of Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres.

    We defend the land with our blood explores the increasing stigmatization, threats, attacks, killings and lack of justice faced by individuals and communities fighting to protect the environment from large-scale mining, logging and hydroelectrical projects.  

    “Defending human rights is one of the most dangerous professions in Latin America but daring to protect vital natural resources takes these risky jobs to a whole new, potentially lethal level,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International. 

    August 18, 2016

    Released  00.01 GMT 19 August 2016

    Commodities giant Trafigura must come clean over the contents of toxic waste dumped in the Côte d’Ivoire capital Abidjan ten years ago, said Amnesty International today.

    Trafigura has never disclosed exactly what was in the 540,000 plus litres of toxic waste dumped at 18 sites in Abidjan on 19 August 2006. More than 100,000 people sought medical attention after the dumping for a whole range of symptoms including dizziness, vomiting and breathing problems, and authorities reported 15 deaths.

    “A decade on from one of the worst environmental disasters of the 21st century, Trafigura and governments alike have abandoned the victims to suffer a toxic legacy. Meanwhile, Trafigura has rebranded itself, claiming it is a transparent, responsible company. This corporate giant, which posted profits of US$1.1 billion in 2015, must not be allowed to completely wash its hands of this disaster,” said Lucy Graham, researcher in Amnesty International’s Business and Human Rights Team.

    July 19, 2016

    Released  20 July 2016 00:01 GMT

    The Myanmar government must immediately order the relocation of a sulphuric acid factory built dangerously close to a village, which is continuing to operate despite grave concerns over its health and environmental impact, said Amnesty International today.

    Residents of Kankone village told Amnesty International on a recent research mission to Myanmar that they are suffering from strong-smelling factory emissions that are causing respiratory, skin and eye problems.

    The emissions, the residents said, have also damaged crops in the area. Soil samples examined by a government department and an environmental NGO in 2013 revealed high levels of sulphates in the soil. The test results, while limited, are a cause for serious concern about the factory and its impacts.

    July 12, 2016

    By Tara Scurr, Business and Human Rights Campaigner with Amnesty International Canada

    "We were woken up from a deep sleep in the middle of the night. It sounded like a low-flying airplane or an earthquake – I couldn’t fathom what it was. We took the grandkids and ran for higher ground. We didn’t know what was happening. " — Resident of Likely, BC

    As morning dawned on August 4, 2014, it became clear that something terrible had happened near the tiny community of Likely, BC.  Residents awoke to the devastating news that the Mount Polley copper mine tailings pond had burst its banks, sending 25 million cubic litres of mine waste water and toxic slurry rushing down Hazeltine Creek. The onslaught of water and debris destroyed the creek and deposited masses of silt and sludge at the bottom of Quesnel Lake, metres deep in some areas. Residents, workers and surrounding communities were shaken to the core. 

    May 10, 2016

    National and international civil society organisations working to advance transparency and accountability in supply chains welcome this 10th Joint Forum on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains.  The Forum represents a commitment by governments and companies to engage in more responsible sourcing and trading in line with applicable laws and standards, such as the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).

    As articulated in the UNGPs, states have an obligation under international law to take appropriate legislative, policy and other measures to protect people against human rights abuse by third parties such as companies. Additionally, the UNGPs require that companies “do no harm” and take pro-active steps to ensure that they do not cause or contribute to human rights abuses in their global operations – and respond to any human rights abuses if they do.

    April 22, 2016

    Responding to FIFA's announcement of a new oversight body to monitor working conditions on stadiums for the 2022 World Cup Mustafa Qadri, Amnesty International's Gulf Migrants Rights Researcher said: 

    “Finally it appears FIFA is waking up to the fact that unless it takes concrete action, the Qatar 2022 World Cup will be built on the blood, sweat and tears of migrant workers. 

    “The announcement of an oversight body and Infantino's admission that FIFA must take human rights seriously are welcome steps in the right direction. Amnesty has already exposed human rights abuses on the Khalifa stadium and the surrounding Aspire Green Zone which need addressing right now. These cases also demonstrate the need to ensure FIFA's human rights monitoring is not limited just to stadiums but includes all other activities linked to the tournament.” 

     

    For more information please call Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations. 416-36-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

    March 02, 2016

    Amnesty International UK Release

    Shell’s failure to maintain and protect pipelines may leave it liable to a raft of compensation claims from dozens of Niger Delta communities, said Amnesty International today as London law firm Leigh Day announced two more lawsuits against Royal Dutch Shell.

    The latest cases were filed today on behalf of two communities in the Niger Delta who have been affected by oil pollution, Bille and Ogale.

    In its investor briefing, Shell’s growing liabilities in the Niger Delta: Lessons from the Bodo court case, Amnesty International warns Shell’s investors that failures in the way the oil giant inspects and reports on oil spills could mask the scale of potential financial liability arising for Shell.

    March 01, 2016

    The Honourable Stéphane Dion
    Minister of Foreign Affairs

    March 1, 2016

    Dear Minister Dion,

    We are writing this Open Letter to you further to ongoing correspondence we have had with the Canadian government over the past year with respect to the sale of Light Armoured Vehicles (LAVs), manufactured in Canada, to Saudi Arabia. In particular, thank you for your letter of February 11th in response to our letter of January 15th which had been sent jointly with Cesar Jaramillo, the Executive Director of Project Ploughshares.

    Minister, as you are aware Amnesty International has been deeply concerned about the potential human rights impact of the sale of LAVs, reported to be in the range of $15 billion. Since news of the deal first came to our attention, over one year ago, we have consistently pressed the government to ensure that a full and comprehensive human rights assessment be conducted and that the results of that assessment be released publicly. No such information has yet to be made public.

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