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Business and Human Rights

    August 21, 2014
    Dwellings near the Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea burn after being set on fire during forced evictions in April 2009. Forced evictions have continued, and more homes were burned down in June 2014. Photo: © Private

     

    "I didn't steal gold and I didn't do anything wrong. Why are they burning my house?"

    By Tara Scurr
    Business & Human Rights Campaigner, Amnesty International

    On June 6, during an early morning raid, state police forces burned more than 200 homes and structures to the ground in the village of Wingima. The homes, located near the Porgera gold mine in central Papua New Guinea, belong mostly to mine workers and artisanal miners and their families. The mine is majority-owned and operated by Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold Corporation.

    "I didn't steal gold and I didn't do anything wrong. Why are they burning my house?"

    August 19, 2014

    Dozens of local residents have told Amnesty International they continue to fear the long-term health impacts of the dumping of toxic waste belonging to multinational oil trader Trafigura in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, exactly eight years ago today.

    An Amnesty International research mission has collected heart-rending testimony from the Akouedo community, where the waste was illegally dumped on the night of 19 August 2006. The dumping caused a human and environmental disaster in Abidjan with over 100,000 people seeking medical assistance and substantial decontamination being required.

    Eight years later these people continue to have unanswered questions about their environment and the dangers of living there. Amnesty International delegates met people who spoke of the loss they had suffered because of the toxic waste dumping. Women expressed concern for their children, who suffer from ongoing health issues. They want to know why. People are also growing vegetables next to areas where toxic waste was dumped without knowing if it is safe.

    August 19, 2014
    A woman, who suffers from burns she says are caused by toxic waste, protests outside the law courts in Abidjan.

    Residents of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, continue to suffer ill-health, eight years after multi-national oil-trader Trafigura dumped toxic waste in their communities. The dumping caused a human and environmental disaster yet residents still do not have answers to their questions about health and safety. Read Amnesty International's public statement. For full details of the Trafigura toxic waste dumping case, please see Injustice Incorporated: Advancing the Right to Remedy for Corporate Abuses of Human Rights. 

    August 18, 2014

    The World Bank endorsed the Lagos state government’s inadequate compensation package for thousands of people forcibly evicted from an informal settlement, Amnesty International said in a report published today.

    The report, At the mercy of the government, finds that the residents of Badia East whose homes were bulldozed on 23 February 2013, were not adequately compensated by the government for their losses and that the World Bank wrongly endorsed a compensation process that was not consistent with international human rights standards or the Bank's own policy.

    “It is an outrage that a community, left destitute by the actions of the Lagos state government, has been denied an effective remedy by the same government and that the World Bank has been complicit in this matter,” said Audrey Gaughran, director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.

    June 21, 2014

    Evidence has emerged which suggests that several hundred Indian nationals may be stranded in the Najaf province of Iraq, unable to return home because their employer refuses to return their passports.

    All the workers are reportedly employed by an infrastructure and construction company. Amnesty International India spoke with some of these workers, who said they have not been paid salaries for the past five months.

    Baljinder Singh (name changed), one of the migrant workers, told Amnesty International India over the phone: "The employer holds all our passports and refuses to return them. We have been restricting ourselves to the company premises since the conflict began because we are scared. Without our passports we can't leave this country, and every passing day makes us feel more and more unsafe. We just want to go home."

    Baljinder Singh said that the workers had raised this concern with the Indian Embassy in Baghdad, which asked them to provide their passport details via text message. The workers sent the details on the morning of 19 June and are now awaiting a response.

    June 20, 2014

    A landmark UK court ruling paves the way for Shell to finally be held accountable for devastating oil pollution in the Niger Delta, Amnesty International said today.

    “Today’s ruling is a shot across the bows for Shell” said Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Director of Global Issues.

    “The court’s message is clear – if you don’t take adequate measures to protect your pipelines from tampering, you could be liable for the damages caused.”

    In a judgment delivered by Mr Justice Akenhead, the London Technological and Construction Court found that short of providing policing or military defence of its pipelines, Shell was responsible for taking reasonable steps to protect them. This would include measures such as installing leak detection systems, surveillance equipment and anti-tamper equipment.

    June 14, 2014

    Investigations into the deaths of 17 people during a forced eviction in Paraguay two years ago have been completely skewed in favour of the police, said Amnesty International today.

    On 15 June 2012, 11 peasants and six police officers died when more than 300 police officers, many of them armed, moved in to evict around 90 peasants occupying land in the Curuguaty district of Paraguay. While 12 people will stand trial next week for the killing of the police officers and other related crimes, no official has been charged for the deaths of the peasants.

    “It is appalling that two years after this tragic event there has been no full and impartial investigation. The Paraguayan authorities must right this imbalance and fully investigate all those responsible for the deaths, on both sides of the violence,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Deputy Director for the Americas Programme.

    June 10, 2014

    Police officers in Papua New Guinea (PNG) who are responsible for burning more than 200 homes to the ground close to a gold mine must be investigated and those found responsible for human rights violations prosecuted, said Amnesty International.

    The homes were set ablaze during an early morning raid on Friday 6 June in Wingima village, close to Porgera gold mine in central PNG, according to community leaders.  

    The mine is majority-owned and operated by Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold Corporation.

    “These illegal and dangerous actions endangered lives and have left scores of families homeless,” said Kate Schuetze, Pacific Researcher at Amnesty International.  

    “Destroying people’s homes and livelihoods in this way violates international laws against forced evictions.  All those responsible must be prosecuted.  Any response to illegal mining or other unlawful activities must be proportionate and meet international standards.  Setting ablaze a village is a blatantly excessive response.”

    June 05, 2014

    The Israeli government’s refusal to allow whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, who leaked details of the country’s nuclear arsenal to the international media in 1986, to leave the country for even three days to attend events in the UK next week is entirely unjustified, said Amnesty International.

    Last month, Israel’s Interior Minister rejected an application by the former nuclear technician to travel to the UK in June. His lawyers have petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn this decision, as well as to revoke a host of other restrictions against him including an ongoing complete travel ban. The Court is expected to rule on his request to travel to the UK next week.

    Mordechai Vanunu is due to attend an event organized by Amnesty International on 17 June to promote the protection of whistleblowers including Edward Snowdon and Chelsea Manning. He has also been invited to address the British parliament on 18 June. 

    May 29, 2014

    Released  00.001 GMT 30 May 2014

    Rights to land are being sold from beneath the feet of rural communities in mining areas as the government of Senegal grants concessions to mining companies without safeguarding human rights in a flagrant breach of their duty under international law, a new report by Amnesty International published today has found.

    The report, Mining and Human Rights in Senegal, reveals that communities are being relocated without due regard for the impact on their livelihoods and access to food and water to make way for international mining companies, eager to exploit the country’s rich reserves of gold and other minerals.

    “The government of Senegal has made much of its ambitions to become a leader in sustainable mining in West Africa but this report shows they are falling woefully short of these aims,” said Seydi Gassama, Director of Amnesty International Senegal.

    May 14, 2014

    The Dow Chemical Company (Dow) is blinding investors to the toxic legacy of Bhopal, Amnesty International said ahead of the corporation’s AGM on Thursday. The company has blocked a shareholder resolution asking for a report on the financial, reputational and operational impact of the catastrophe on Dow’s business.

     “Dow’s refusal to talk about the Bhopal disaster ignores the continued suffering of the local community, and is an irresponsible business move,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.

    “Dow’s Bhopal problems aren’t about to go away simply by ignoring them.”

    There will be no discussion at the AGM of the consequences of impending criminal and civil court proceedings relating to the 1984 gas leak which resulted in the deaths of thousands, as well as ongoing damage to the health and environment of local communities.

    May 14, 2014

    Proposed reforms announced by the Government of Qatar fall far short of the fundamental changes needed to address systemic abuses against migrant workers in the construction, domestic and other sectors, Amnesty International said today.

    The proposed measures stand in stark contrast to the findings of the international law firm DLA Piper, whose report, commissioned at the government's request, confirms many of Amnesty International’s findings regarding the systemic nature of the abuse of migrant workers.

    "Based on today’s announcement the proposals appear to be a missed opportunity. The government claims it is abolishing the sponsorship system, but this sounds like a change of name rather than substantive reform,” said James Lynch, Amnesty International’s researcher on migrants’ rights in the Gulf.

    “In particular, it remains unclear how proposed reforms to the exit permit will work in practice, and whether under the new proposal employers will retain the ability to object to workers leaving the country.”

    May 08, 2014

    The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
    Prime Minister of Canada
    80  Wellington Street
    Ottawa, Ontario
    K1A 0A2

    May 8, 2014

    Dear Prime Minister Harper,

    As an integral part of Amnesty International’s ongoing effort, within Canada and globally, to encourage businesses and governments to ensure that company operations promote strong human rights protection and do not lead to human rights abuses, our international office has recently published the enclosed book, Injustice Incorporated: Advancing the Right to Remedy for Corporate Abuses of Human Rights.  We are officially launching the book in Canada today at a conference at Ryerson University’s Institute for the Study of Corporate Social Responsibility.
     

    May 08, 2014

    Toronto -- Amnesty International today launched in Canada a major new publication on the right to remedy for victims of corporate human rights abuses at a conference on corporate social responsibility at Ryerson University. The book, entitled Injustice Incorporated: Corporate Abuses and the Human Right to Remedy (Injustice Incorporated) provides a comprehensive framework for substantially changing the legal imbalance between vulnerable individuals and powerful companies.

    April 24, 2014

    Caption:A Bangladeshi mourner and relative of a victim of the Rana Plaza building collapse weeps as she takes part in a protest marking the first anniversary of the disaster at the site where the building once stood in Savar on the outskirts of Dhaka on April 24, 2014. The Rana Plaza building collapsed on April 24, 2013, killing 1138 workers in the world's worst garment factory disaster. Western fashion brands faced pressure to increase help for victims as mass protests marked the anniversary. Thousands of people, some wearing funeral shrouds, staged demonstrations at the site of the now-infamous Rana Plaza factory complex.AFP PHOTO / Munir uz ZAMAN (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

    By Joe Westby, Corporate Campaigner at Amnesty International

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