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Business and Human Rights

    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.

    November 10, 2015

    •    20 years on from his execution, Ken Saro-Wiwa’s struggle continues

    •    Thousands still blighted by oil pollution

    •    Shell is yet to clean up the Niger Delta

    As hundreds of people remember the killing of environmental activists Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists executed 20 years ago, Amnesty International urged oil giant Royal Dutch Shell and Nigerian authorities to clean up the oil pollution in the Niger Delta.

    “It is heartbreakingly tragic to see how 20 years after the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa, who campaigned bitterly for the clean-up of the oil pollution in the Niger Delta, we see very little has changed: the oil spills have not stopped, and Shell has still not cleaned up this huge environmental degradation,” said Amnesty International Nigeria Director M K Ibrahim.

    October 02, 2015

    Amnesty International U.S.A. Release 2 October 2015 10:00 am EDT 

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Amnesty International is calling on a U.S. court to reconsider a decision protecting some of the world’s largest companies from having to tell consumers that they were unable to prove their products have not funded armed groups contributing to conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and neighboring countries.

    Section 1502 of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act requires companies to publicly report whether their products contain certain minerals whose trade helps fuel violence in Central Africa. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted a rule to implement Section 1502. That rule requires companies to use specific language when describing their products that contain those minerals, saying that the products have “not been found to be DRC-conflict free.”

    September 30, 2015

    By Tara Scurr, Campaigner, Business and Human Rights  


    One year ago, Alex Neve and I were sitting in the Hotel Continental in Guatemala City, waiting for reporters to turn up for our press conference. We were about to launch a new Amnesty International report on mining and human rights. We’d been warned by our experienced Guatemalan media handler not to expect many reporters to show up. Imagine our delight when our press conference began and we saw that the room was packed with radio, print and TV reporters, NGOs, and human rights defenders from  communities affected by mining. It was standing room only.

    September 29, 2015

    Released 00:01 GMT 30 September 2015

    The Central African Republic’s (CAR) biggest traders have purchased diamonds worth several million dollars without adequately investigating whether they financed armed groups responsible for summary executions, rape, enforced disappearances and widespread looting, Amnesty International said in a report published today.

    The report, Chains of Abuse: The global diamond supply chain and the case of the Central African Republic, documents several other abuses in the diamond sector, including child labour and tax abuse.

    CAR’s diamond companies could soon start exporting diamonds stockpiled during the on-going conflict in which 5,000 have died. An export ban in place since May 2013 will be partially lifted once the government meets conditions set in July 2015 by the Kimberley Process, which is responsible for preventing the international trade in blood diamonds. Before the conflict, diamonds represented half the country’s exports.

    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.


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