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Business and Human Rights

    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.

    January 28, 2016

    AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL LUXEMBOURG PRESS RELEASE 

    Released 12:00PM CET, 29 January 2016

     Inadequate and incomplete regulations and policies on financing the arms sector mean there is little to stop banks from financing and investing in the production and transfer of internationally banned weapons or arms used to commit serious human rights violations, according to an Amnesty International Luxembourg report launched today.

    The report, Banks, arms and human rights violations, looks into the failures of the Luxembourg financial sector to put in place regulations, policies and procedures to effectively curb financial support for arms-related activities.

    While Luxembourg’s banks are in the spotlight, the report’s findings and recommendations are also applicable to other countries in the European Union and elsewhere.

    January 25, 2016

    An Amnesty International UK PRESS RELEASE
     
    Rights groups urge contenders to address labour abuses and discrimination
     
    The candidates seeking the FIFA presidency should sign up to a set of pledges to prevent human rights abuses and corruption linked to the World Cup and other FIFA events, said a group of leading NGOs ahead of a debate in the European Parliament featuring three of the five contenders on Wednesday (27 January).
     
    Amnesty International, Football Supporters Europe, Human Rights Watch, Terre des Hommes, and Transparency International Germany have asked the candidates to commit - if elected president - to taking six clear steps that will put FIFA on the road to ensuring its events do not cause or contribute to human rights abuses and corruption. The FIFA presidential election takes place on 26 February.
     
    Kerry Moscoguiri, campaigns director at Amnesty International UK, said:
     

    January 18, 2016

    Released 00:01 GMT 19 January 2016

    Major electronics brands, including Apple, Samsung and Sony, are failing to do basic checks to ensure that cobalt mined by child labourers has not been used in their products, said Amnesty International and Afrewatch in a report published today.

    The report, "This is what we die for: Human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo power the global trade in cobalt", traces the sale of cobalt, used in lithium-ion batteries, from mines where children as young as seven and adults work in perilous conditions.

    December 18, 2015

     

    US chemical giant Dow must respond to court summons and show up on Saturday at the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s (CJM) court in Bhopal in relation to criminal charges around the 1984 Bhopal gas leak disaster, Amnesty International India said today.

    “Dow must stop dodging the Indian justice system and ignoring survivors who have suffered from the toxic fallout of the disaster for over three decades now,” said Aruna Chandrasekhar, Business and Human Rights Officer at Amnesty International India.

    Dow has ignored three previous, consecutive criminal court summons issued by the CJM since July 2013 for service on Dow in the US through official government channels. “We hope that the Indian and US governments have done their part to ensure that Dow complies with an official Indian court order,” said Aruna Chandrasekhar.

    November 30, 2015

    Released 00:01 GMT 01 December 2015

    Labour exploitation remains rampant in Qatar as the authorities fail to deliver significant reforms, Amnesty International said today before the fifth anniversary of Qatar winning the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

    Despite massive public exposure of the appalling conditions faced by most migrant construction workers, the Qatari authorities have done almost nothing effective to end chronic labour exploitation.

    “Too little has been done to address rampant migrant labour abuse. Qatar’s persistent labour reform delays are a recipe for human rights disaster,” said Mustafa Qadri, Gulf Migrant Rights Researcher at Amnesty International.

    “The reforms proposed by the government fail to tackle the central issues that leave so many workers at the mercy of employers, yet even these changes have been delayed.

    “Unless action is taken – and soon – then every football fan who visits Qatar in 2022 should ask themselves how they can be sure they are not benefiting from the blood, sweat and tears of migrant workers.

    November 27, 2015

    Myanmar’s government stands accused of putting profits before human rights at the Letpadaung copper mine, with continued detention of activists and continued refusal to investigate use of white phosphorous against peaceful protestors, said Amnesty International today.

    Three years ago, on 29 November 2012, security forces used white phosphorous, a highly toxic explosive substance, in a deliberate attack on villagers and monks who were protesting the negative impacts of the Letpadaung mine, part of the Monywa copper mining project in the Sagaing region of North-West Myanmar. Between 110 and 150 people were injured, with some suffering horrific burns and lifelong disability.

    The authorities are yet to investigate either the police or mining company Myanmar Wanbao (a subsidiary of Chinese mining company Wanbao), from whose compound part of the attack was launched.

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