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Business and Human Rights

    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.  

    February 28, 2011

    About 2,000 Indian farmers could lose their livelihoods in the next month if a proposed US$12 billion steel plant operation involving South Korean steel giant POSCO goes ahead, Amnesty International warned today.

    The Indian authorities have given POSCO conditional clearance to establish a steel plant and port operation on about 4,000 hectares of land in the coastal Jagatsinghpur district of the eastern state of Orissa.

    The area includes land on which local farmers are dependent for their livelihoods, and to which they may have rights under Indian law.

    The farmers’ claims to the land have not been properly settled, despite the fact that official investigations have raised serious concerns about the failures of Orissa State to protect land rights in the context of the steel project.

    State police could take over the land during March if the authorities fail to recognize the farmers’ right to use it.

    January 25, 2011

    Amnesty International and Friends of the Earth today filed an official complaint against oil giant Shell for breaches of basic standards for responsible business set out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The organisations claim that Shell’s use of discredited and misleading information to blame the majority of oil pollution on saboteurs in its Niger Delta operations has breached the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The complaint was filed with UK and Netherlands government contact points for the OECD..

    Tomorrow (Wednesday 26 January) Shell will be under scrutiny for its environmental and human rights impacts during a hearing in the Dutch Parliament on the company’s activities in Nigeria.

    In the mid 1990s Shell accepted that much of the oil pollution in the Niger Delta was due to the company’s own failures. However, the company now blames sabotage by communities and criminals for most of the problem, citing misleading figures that purport to show as much as 98% of oil spills being caused by sabotage.

    November 06, 2009

    Amnesty International’s Brief in support of Bill C-300

    An Act respecting Corporate Accountability for the Activities of Mining, Oil or Gas in Developing Countries

    Presented to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development

    6 November 2009

    Amnesty strongly supports the important purpose of Bill C-300 -  ensuring “that corporations engaged in mining, oil or gas activities and receiving support from the Government of Canada act in a manner consistent with international environmental best practices and with Canada’s commitments to international human rights standards.” Amnesty ultimately believes not only that human rights can be good for business, but also that business can be good for human rights. For these reasons, Amnesty strongly supports Bill C-300 and urges all Members of Parliament to vote in favour of this important legislation.

    Do you live in the Vancouver Lower Mainland? If so, join us for a free webinar on March 17 at 7 PM.

    Register now!

    We have all heard deeply disturbing reports about Canadian mining companies involved in human rights violations around the world, including in Africa, Latin America and Asia.

    Join this webinar to find out what you can do to help hold Canadian mining companies accountable for harming people in other countries, and to make sure that people who have been harmed by Canadian companies are able to seek justice in Canada.

    This webinar is for residents of the Vancouver Lower Mainland who are interested in human rights and mining justice. We will bring together people from different political ridings to strategize about lobbying their Member of Parliament (MP).

    Special guest: a local MP will join us and talk about how easy and effective it is to talk to your Member of Parliament about issues you are concerned about.

    This is a public panel, co-organized by Amnesty International Canada and Breaking the Silence, featuring youth activists from Guatemala and Atlantic Canada. Panelists will share and exchange stories and experiences with social justice and activism. All are welcome to attend. 

    This public event kicks of Breaking the Silence's annual gathering, which will take place the following two days. 

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