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Business and Human Rights

    October 11, 2011

    (Kyiv) A former Ukrainian prime minister jailed today for abuse of office must be released, Amnesty International said today.

    Yuliya Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years imprisonment and barred from holding public office for three years by a Kyiv court for signing a multi-million dollar energy contract with Russia in January 2009, while she was Prime Minister.

    “The prosecution against Yuliya Timoshenko is politically motivated. The charges against her are not internationally recognizable offences, they are attempts to criminalize decisions that she made in the course of her work," said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Programme Director of Amnesty International.

    "Poor political decisions of this kind – if that is what they were - should be punished by voters, not through courts. Her conviction on these charges is illegitimate and she should be immediately released."

    Yuliya Tymoshenko, a prominent opposition leader, was Prime Minister from January to September 2005 and again from December 2007 to March 2010.

    October 10, 2011

    The Indonesian authorities must immediately investigate the use of deadly force by police at a mining protest, Amnesty International said today after one protester was killed and at least six injured.

    Indonesian security forces opened fire on striking workers of a gold and copper mine in the eastern province of Papua run by US company Freeport-Mcmoran on Monday. Some 8,000 workers at the mine have been on strike since 15 September, after demands for a pay rise reached a deadlock.

    “This latest incident shows that Indonesian police have not learned how to deal with protesters without resorting to excessive, and even lethal, force,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director.

    “The police have a duty to protect themselves and uphold the law, but it is completely unacceptable to fire live ammunition at these protesters,” he said.

    “The authorities must launch an independent and impartial investigation into this tragedy, and ensure that the results are made public,” he added.

    August 04, 2011

    The oil company Shell has had a disastrous impact on the human rights of the people living in the Niger Delta in Nigeria, said Amnesty International, responding to a UN report on the effects of oil pollution in Ogoniland in the Delta region.

    The report from the United Nations Environment Programme is the first of its kind in Nigeria and based on two years of in-depth scientific research. It found that oil contamination is widespread and severe, and that people in the Niger Delta have been exposed for decades.

    “This report proves Shell has had a terrible impact in Nigeria, but has got away with denying it for decades, falsely claiming they work to best international standards,” said Amnesty International Global Issues Director, Audrey Gaughran, who has researched the human rights impacts of pollution in the Delta.

    July 24, 2011

    Ongoing attempts by UK-based mining company Vedanta Resources to overturn an Indian government decision blocking a proposed bauxite mine and expansion of an alumina refinery in Orissa should not be allowed to succeed, new report by Amnesty International says.

    The report, Generalisations, Omissions, Assumptions, reveals that the company has failed to adequately consider the human impact of its proposed projects with an investment of US$ 1,7 billion in Orissa.

    “Vedanta’s mine and refinery expansion projects must not be allowed to go ahead. The company is trying to overturn the Indian Environment Ministry’s decision to block its plans, claiming they have taken into account the impact on the local people and environment. In fact Vedanta’s Environmental Impact Assessments have been wholly inadequate.” said Madhu Malhotra, Amnesty International’s Asia Deputy Director.

    The High Court of Orissa on Tuesday upheld the Indian government's decision made in August 2010, to reject Vedanta's plans for the six-fold expansion of the Lanjigarh refinery, finding that the project violated the country’s environmental laws.

    July 19, 2011

    Amnesty International has urged the Indian authorities to order the immediate clean-up of an alumina refinery in the state of Orissa, following a high court decision to reject plans for its expansion by a subsidiary of the UK-based Vedanta Resources.

    The High Court of Orissa on Tuesday upheld the Indian government's decision made in August 2010, to reject Vedanta Aluminium's plans for the six-fold expansion of the Lanjigarh refinery, finding that the project violated the country’s environmental laws.

    Vedanta Aluminium challenged the Ministry of Environment and Forest's decision in the high court on November 2010.
           
    "This decision is of tremendous significance for the local communities, who have been fighting to prevent this expansion going ahead," said Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific Deputy Director, Madhu Malhotra.

    "The refinery, which has been in operation for four years, fails to meet accepted national and international standards in relation to its environmental, social and human rights impact. The authorities must order an immediate clean-up of the site and monitor the health status of the local communities.

    July 18, 2011

    The Turkish authorities should halt a series of heavy- handed forced evictions which have already resulted in a number of vulnerable families in central Istanbul effectively being made homeless, Amnesty International said today.

    Dozens of families in the Tarlabaþý district are facing forced eviction as a result of an urban regeneration project. They told Amnesty International they have been subjected to intimidation and threats by the local Beyoðlu municipality and law enforcement officials. In some cases those officials forced them to sign eviction notices without being allowed to read them, or told them that failure to sign the documents would result in their immediate eviction.

    Some residents have already been evicted. On 24 June, Besra, a single parent, returned from visiting her mother in hospital to find her door broken in. Officials forced her to vacate her home immediately, throwing her belongings out onto the street. Other families threatened with eviction include Roma, Kurds who settled in Tarlabaþý after being displaced from south-eastern Turkey in the 1990s, and transgender women, who already face considerable difficulty accessing housing.  

    June 17, 2011

     
    17 June 2011
    Governments must improve working conditions for tens of millions of domestic workers around the world, Amnesty International said today after the adoption of a new treaty setting global standards for domestic work.  

    The International Labour Organization (ILO)’s annual conference overwhelmingly adopted the Convention on Domestic Workers yesterday, extending a range of measures to protect labour rights that have been abused or have gone largely ignored in the past.

    “Abuses against domestic workers – the vast majority of whom are women and girls – are all too common in many parts of the world, but until now we’ve lacked good measures to stop them,” said Michael Bochenek, International Director of Law and Policy for Amnesty International.

    “All countries should ratify this landmark treaty, which lays a strong foundation for a global legal framework to put an end to such abuses.”

    June 03, 2011

    Indian authorities must immediately release two activists arrested apparently for their work to protect local communities from industrial pollution, Amnesty International said today, after one of the men was found chained to a hospital bed while in custody.

    Environmental activist Ramesh Agrawal and Harihar Patel, who practices indigenous medicine, were arrested on 28 May in Raigarh town in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh after leading a campaign to protect local Adivasi (Indigenous) communities from pollution caused by industrial projects.

    The men have been held at Raigarh prison as a local court denied them bail on 2 June. During his detention, Ramesh Agrawal, who suffers from hypertension, was taken for treatment at a state-run hospital where he was chained to a bed.

    “Shackling someone who is ill to a hospital bed is inherently cruel and inhumane punishment that should never have been used on a detainee arrested for peaceful activism,” said Madhu Malhotra, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director.

    June 02, 2011

    The Brazilian authorities must ensure the rights of indigenous communities living around the river Xingu are respected and protected, Amnesty International said today as Brazil’s environmental agency approved the construction of the Belo Monte dam.

    “Brazil must abide by the recommendations issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to suspend the construction of the Belo Monte dam until the rights of local indigenous communities are fully guaranteed,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Americas Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    “Continuing with the construction of the Belo Monte Dam before ensuring the rights of indigenous communities are protected is equivalent to sacrificing human rights for development.”

    Last April, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said the license for the construction of the Belo Monte dam should be suspended until indigenous communities are fully and effectively consulted – including by having access to a Social and Environmental Impact Assessment of the project in their languages -- and measures are put in place to protect the lives of communities in voluntary isolation.

    June 01, 2011

    Amnesty International has warned that thousands of families in the Indian state of Orissa are facing serious health risks during the imminent monsoon season following reports of leaks at the Vedanta Aluminium refinery’s main ‘red mud pond’, a vast reservoir of toxic residue.

    The organization has obtained video footage taken by people living in the Lanjigarh area showing two recent serious breaches of the pond following heavy rains, with gushing liquid flowing onto nearby roads.

    An estimated four to five thousand families in 12 villages are threatened by the leaks, which could worsen during heavy monsoon rains.

    “Vedanta and the authorities must take action – with rainy season approaching the situation is a ticking time bomb. The red mud pond poses a serious threat to the health, livelihoods and safety of the local people” said Ramesh Gopalakrishnan, Amnesty International’s South Asia Researcher.

    May 26, 2011

    Amnesty International has called on Panama to halt flooding in an area where indigenous families are still living, as negotiations continue over their relocation to make way for a dam on their lands.

    The Panamanian Vice President’s office announced on 20 May that flooding would commence soon to fill the Chan-75 dam in the Changuinola district of Bocas del Toro province in north-western Panama. Local activists told Amnesty International on Monday that the water level had already begun to rise.

    While hundreds of Ngöbe indigenous families have already left the area, some remain in their homes and are still negotiating their relocation with local authorities.

    “It’s simply unacceptable for the Panamanian authorities to allow this area to be flooded until they can ensure all the Ngöbe families have safely moved away,” said Sebastian Elgueta, Researcher on Central America at Amnesty International.

    “People are still living in the water’s path, and their lives and safety are in danger.”

    According to local activists, some of the families contend they have not received the full amount of compensation that had been agreed.

    April 08, 2011

    The Peruvian authorities must refrain from using excessive force against people protesting against a large mining project, Amnesty International said today, after two protesters were shot dead and scores were injured in clashes with police.

    The clashes came during demonstrations Thursday against the “Tía Maria” mining project in the southern province of Islay, Amnesty International said today.

    “The Peruvian authorities must investigate the killings and begin a fair consultation process with those communities that may be affected by the mining project, said Nuria García, Amnesty International’s researcher on Peru

    Another protestor was killed on Monday amid confrontations with police in Islay province. Eleven other people, including three people officers, were also injured.

    The dead protestors are Aurelio Huarcapoma, 50, and Néstor Cerezo Patana, 31. Three protesters have now been killed this week amid the disturbances. Andrés Taype Chuquipima, 22, was reportedly shot dead from behind by police officers on Monday.

    March 31, 2011

    Canada’s standing as an international human rights champion has dropped. In the days leading to the election all parties must make concrete commitments to help to restore its leadership role, says Amnesty International. As Canadians go to the polls they have a crucial opportunity to reflect on these fundamental issues.

    “Deep at the core of the well-being, safety and prosperity of a country, and its place in world, is the approach a country takes to human rights issues,” says Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International. “Canada must reclaim its leading role in human rights.”

    In a report released today Getting Back On The “Rights” Track , Amnesty International outlines a human rights agenda for Canada. It provides a blueprint for leadership at home and a consistent and principled stand for Canada abroad that should be adopted by all politicians during the election campaign. And it must be implemented by those who win the election.

    March 22, 2011

    "When the pump house runs out of water so does the school." -- Lubicon youth talk about their lives in a video called "Our Water."
    The situation of the Lubicon Cree is one of the best known - and most notorious - examples of the violation of Indigenous land rights in Canada. For more than two decades, United Nations human rights bodies have been urging Canada to protect Lubicon rights in the face of massive oil and gas development on their lands.
    Last year, youth from the community told Amnesty International they wanted to chance to tell their own stories. So we asked Jaro Malanowski, an Edmonton filmmaker with long experience working with First Nations youth, to lead a workshop at the school in Little Buffalo.

    Around a dozen Lubicon youth signed up for the training. But the workshop nearly didn't happen. On the first day in the community, our meeting with the students had to be postponed because the school had no water and had to be closed.
    The Lubicon school, like the homes, depends on water trucked into the community. The school was closed 22 days last year because it ran out of water.

    March 17, 2011

    Amnesty International has urged several US states to abandon planned legislation that would drastically restrict workers' rights.

    States including Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma and Tennessee have proposed bills severely limiting the collective bargaining rights of trade union members. A similar bill was passed in Wisconsin on Friday.

    "State governors must withdraw support for these measures which, if adopted, would violate international law," said Shane Enright, Amnesty International’s trade union adviser.

    “The US has an obligation to uphold the rights of American workers - including the specific right to organize and bargain collectively."

    Wisconsin governor Scott Walker signed a bill on Friday that undermines the ability of unions in the public sector to protect workers. The legislation also takes away nearly all collective bargaining rights for most public employees, limiting their negotiation rights only to wages.  

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