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Business and Human Rights

    August 06, 2015

    Shell must match the Nigerian government’s new commitment to tackle oil pollution in the Niger Delta by dramatically improving how it cleans up spills, Amnesty International said today.

    President Muhammadu Buhari’s announcement on Wednesday of a trust fund to pay for the clean-up of the Ogoniland region in the Niger Delta is welcome, but if Shell’s ineffective clean-up methods are not fully overhauled, its impact will be limited.

    “It is scandalous that Shell - which now wants the world to trust it to drill in the Arctic – has failed to properly implement the UN’s expert advice on oil spill response after so long,” said Mark Dummett, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Business and Human Rights, who has just returned from the Niger Delta.

    August 04, 2015

    By Fiona Koza and Tara Scurr

    Today marks the first anniversary of what has been called the largest mining disaster in British Columbia’s history. In the middle of the night, on August 4, 2014, residents say they were awakened by what sounded like hundreds of jumbo jets flying overhead, a sound that continued for hours as millions of litres of tailings water rushed from Mt Polley’s mine tailings impoundment into Polley Lake, down Hazeltine Creek, and into Quesnel Lake.

    Shaken and knowing something had gone terribly wrong at the mine, those who were awake rushed to call emergency services, while others jumped in quads, boats and trucks to warn people who were camping or living along the lake. In the early hours of panic and fear, residents told Amnesty researchers they didn’t know whether the community’s children were at risk, if they should seek higher ground, or if they should stay put.

    July 27, 2015
    By Fiona Koza, Amnesty Campaigner for Business and Human Rights   Taking a trip along the Ditch Road in Likely, BC yesterday, we were unprepared for the sight of Hazeltine Creek, which was devastated as a consequence of the Mt Polley mine tailings breach almost one year ago. Twenty-five million cubic metres of mine waste mixed with water is hard to visualize, but when it spilled from Mt Polley’s mine tailings storage facility through Polley Lake and into Hazeltine Creek, it was enough to scour out a deep canyon and uproot and carry away a swath of dense forest on the way to Quesnel Lake.  
    July 23, 2015

    • Government refuses to investigate commodities giant Trafigura
    • Authorities lack tools and resources to take action
    • New laws and better resources needed to tackle corporate crime

    In a startling admission UK authorities have informed Amnesty International that they do not have the tools, resources or expertise to investigate whether the multinational commodities giant Trafigura conspired to dump toxic waste in Côte d’Ivoire.

    The statement came after Amnesty International presented a legal brief and 5,000 page dossier to UK authorities containing a raft of evidence that Trafigura’s London-based staff may have intentionally orchestrated the dumping of the waste in Côte d’Ivoire’s capital Abidjan in August 2006.

    After the dumping more than 100,000 people sought medical attention. Côte d’Ivoire authorities reported at least 15 deaths.

    “The fact that the UK authorities do not have the tools, expertise or resources to investigate the case is truly shocking. This is tantamount to giving multinational companies carte

    July 21, 2015

    By Tara L. Scurr, Campaigner - Business and Human Rights 

    Today, AI Canada's Business and Human Rights research team arrived in the jaw-droppingly beautiful village of Likely, in the centre of the province of British Columbia. On August 4, 2014, Likely was the scene of one of the largest tailings pond breaches in Canadian history when the Mount Polley copper mine tailings dam burst, sending 25 million cubic metres of water and mine waste rushing into local creeks and lakes. Tiny creek beds were scoured, trees snapping like match sticks, as the waters rushed down from the dam into Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek and Quesnel Lake, depositing tailings across the landscape as it went.

    We're here for the next few days to listen to people's stories about what happened that day, how the company and the government of British Columbia responded to the disaster, and how, in the 11 months since, residents are getting on with their lives.

    July 10, 2015
    A sobering look at Canada's human rights record

    By Alex Neve, Secretary-General of Amnesty International Canada 

    “This is not the Canada I once knew.” 

    Those were the words of a British member of the UN Human Rights Committee who was taking part this week in the committee’s first review of Canada’s human rights record in 10 years.

    Sir Nigel Rodley, a law professor and chair of the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex, was referring to the deteriorating space for human rights advocacy, protest and dissent in Canada. He noted it was almost unbelievable that the UN committee felt compelled to raise these sorts of concerns with Canada. Sir Nigel highlighted research by the Voices coalition, which pointed to astonishing levels of fear and intimidation felt by Canadian activists and civil society groups, and referred to the disquiet expressed by the UN’s leading expert on the freedoms of assembly and association. He dismissed the Canadian government’s initial response to questions about the crackdown as “thin.”

    May 26, 2015

    Planned protests against a copper mining project in southern Peru must be allowed to go ahead peacefully and without police repression, said Amnesty International, amid fears of a recurrence of the fatal violence that marred protests in recent weeks.

    Four people – including one police officer – have been killed and hundreds injured since late April during protests against the planned Tía María copper mining project. The Peruvian authorities imposed a state of emergency in the region following the latest killing on 22 May, and the army has now been deployed to the area.

    “The world is watching the Peruvian government this week. With more protests planned for the coming days, authorities must do all in their power to allow people to voice their concerns peacefully, without fear of injury or worse,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Deputy Director Americas, Amnesty International.

    May 25, 2015

    Diamonds. Murder. Torture. Broken promises. Important officials. International players. All the elements of a gripping narrative told in a Hollywood blockbuster. Except this isn’t fiction, and the person on trial was the journalist who made sure the world knew the story.

    Rafael Marques de Morais, Angolan journalist and human rights defender, spent the last nearly three years defending his right to tell what happened to the miners and villagers in the Lunda Norte diamond fields region.

    He alleged in a book that seven Angolan generals and two mining companies were complicit in the human rights violations he documented. Those generals and the companies then sued him for criminal defamation, first in Portugal where the book was published and then in Angola.


     

    On May 21st, 2015, Rafael Marques de Morais walked out of court a free man.

    He was facing over 10 years in prison and a fine of $1.2 million US dollars but all charges were dropped.

    May 20, 2015

    Released 00:01 BST Thursday 21 May 2015

    More than a year after Qatar’s government promised limited reforms to improve migrant labour rights, hopes of true progress are fading fast, says Amnesty International in a new briefing published today.

    The briefing, Promising little, delivering less: Qatar and migrant labour abuse ahead of the 2022 Football World Cup, features a ‘scorecard’ that rates the authorities’ response to nine fundamental migrant labour rights issues identified by Amnesty International. A year later, only limited progress has been achieved on five of these issues, in four areas the authorities have failed to make any improvements.

    “Qatar is failing migrant workers. Last year the government made plenty of promises to improve migrant labour rights in Qatar, but in practice, there have been no significant advances in the protection of rights,” said Mustafa Qadri, Gulf migrant rights researcher at Amnesty International.

    May 19, 2015

    Europe looks set to prioritise big business over people suffering under the deadly conflict minerals trade, Amnesty International and Global Witness warn on the eve of a landmark vote designed to tackle the European trade.

    Members of Parliament (MEPs) will vote on inaugural legislation in Strasbourg on Wednesday, which for the first time could legally require European companies to ensure the minerals they buy are not contributing to conflict or human rights abuses in other countries.

    But intense lobbying by big business risks watering down the law into a proposal that would do little to tackle a trade that funds conflict in parts of Africa and elsewhere. If the proposal is not amended, only about 20 raw mineral importers would be legally required to source their materials responsibly. European businesses that sell and make products containing those minerals would only be covered by a voluntary system.

    “This is a historic opportunity to tackle the conflict minerals trade. But the proposal on the table effectively ignores some of the most important players in the industry,” said Lucy Graham of Amnesty International.

    May 08, 2015

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

    “We have faith that Amnesty International’s campaigning will inform investors in Tahoe Resources about our suffering in Guatemala.” Resident of San Rafael Las Flores

    When Alex Neve and I visited San Rafael Las Flores, Santa Rosa province, the site of Tahoe’s Escobal mine, in September 2014, it was to present the findings of our report, Mining in Guatemala: Rights at Risk and seek feedback from local grassroots activists. We hoped that community members, activists, legal experts, investors and governments would find it useful in untangling some of the problems with Guatemala’s mining regulatory framework and outline how the government and companies are failing human rights. It was clear from our research that current mining regulations and corporate practices are stoking conflict in Guatemala, leading to serious human rights violations, and that change is desperately needed. 

    May 08, 2015

    Canadian mining corporation Turquoise Hill Resources (formerly called Ivanhoe Mines) should disclose all transactions related to the divestment of its interest in a mining project in Myanmar, which may have breached Canadian economic sanctions on Myanmar, Amnesty International said ahead of the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Vancouver today (8 May).

    Ivanhoe Mines set up a secretive ‘Monywa Trust’ to enable  the company to divest its 50 per cent stake in the controversial Monywa copper mining project in central Myanmar, where abuses have included forced evictions and environmental pollution.

    Information obtained by Amnesty International indicates that the Trust was set up in the British Virgin Islands, which is well known for its secrecy provisions.

    May 06, 2015

    The Peruvian authorities must promptly ensure thorough, independent and impartial investigations into the deaths of two men in the past two weeks amid the policing of anti-mining protests in the south of the country, Amnesty International said.

    In the most recent case, Henry Checlla Chura, 35, was killed early on 5 May when police allegedly opened fire against protesters blocking a highway in the Alto Inclán area of Mollendo. Clashes left scores of protesters and police officers injured.

    His death follows clashes with police in nearby Cocachacra on 22 April which resulted in the fatal shooting of 61-year-old Victoriano Huayna Nina and injuries to 13 others, including two police officers.

    “That two people have now been killed amid the social unrest in southern Peru raises red flags over the policing of these ongoing protests. Their killings must spark prompt, independent and impartial investigations, and any police officer suspected of having committed a crime must be brought to trial,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Deputy Americas Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    April 22, 2015

    Embargoed until: April 22, 2015 at 12:01 a.m. ET (05:01 London time)

    Nearly 80 per cent of U.S. public companies analyzed by human rights groups are failing to adequately check and disclose whether their products contain conflict minerals from Central Africa, a new report by Amnesty International and Global Witness reveals today.

    The report, Digging for Transparency, analyzes 100 conflict minerals reports filed by companies including Apple, Boeing and Tiffany & Co under the 2010 Dodd Frank Act (Section 1502), known as the conflict minerals law. The findings point to alarming gaps in U.S. corporate transparency.

    Under the law, more than one thousand U.S.-listed companies that believe they may source minerals from Central Africa submitted reports to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2014, the first year they were required to do so. The law is designed to reduce the risk that the purchase of minerals from Central Africa contributes to conflict or human rights abuses.

    March 30, 2015

    South African President Jacob Zuma must urgently make public the findings of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry into the violence that that led to the killings of 34 striking miners on 16 August 2012 and the violent deaths of 10 other people in the preceding days, Amnesty International said today.

    The Commission is required to submit its final report and findings to the President on 31 March 2015.

    “The surviving victims of the tragic events of Marikana and the families of all those who died have a right to receive justice and reparations for the harm they have suffered,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    “President Jacob Zuma must make public the full report as a priority. The South African authorities must also ensure full accountability and the re-establishment of lawful and impartial policing as a matter of urgency.

    Amnesty International has followed the work of the Commission of Inquiry closely from its establishment in late 2012, including attending many of its hearings and providing support in collaboration with others to the victims. 

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