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Business and Human Rights

    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

    April 22, 2014

    Originally posted 23 April 2014 00:01 BST

    The Qatari authorities are failing to protect migrant domestic workers who face severe exploitation, including forced labour and physical and sexual violence, Amnesty International said in a new report published today.

    “My sleep is my break”: Exploitation of domestic workers in Qatar paints a bleak picture of women who have been recruited to work in Qatar on the basis of false promises about salaries and working conditions, only to be made to work extreme hours and seven-day weeks. Some women described how they were subjected to appalling episodes of sexual and physical violence.

    “Migrant domestic workers are victims of a discriminatory system that denies them basic protections and leaves them open to exploitation and abuse including forced labour and human trafficking," said Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Global Issues Director.

    April 14, 2014
    Open for Justice logo

    MPs are in their home ridings this week and next, so now is the perfect time to phone your MP and ask him or her to ensure that Canada is "Open for Justice". We know that some people have experience speaking with their MP, and others do not, so we have put together a handy kit to help you. Our Open for Justice kits contain a campaign backgrounder, a Q&A, tips on setting up a meeting with your MP, talking points for your meeting, and a pledge for your MP to sign. You can download your kit from the "resources" section on our Open for Justice website www.amnesty.ca/openforjustice

    Several Amnesty members and groups have already met with their MPs to discuss this important issue and two MPs have signed the pledge: MP John McKay (Scarborough-Guildwood) and Elizabeth May (Saanich-Gulf Islands). Will your MP be next? And we have an exciting new announcement. The next three Amnesty members who are successful in getting their MPs to sign the pledge will win an Amnesty prize! So don't delay - phone or meet with your MP today!

     

    April 09, 2014
    Police forced evictions in villages within the Porgera gold mine Special Mining Lease (SML) April - July 2009, Porgera, Papua New Guinea.

    By Audrey Gaughran
    Director of Global Issues, Amnesty International

    For more than five years now Amnesty International has been working on a project on the right to effective remedy in cases of corporate-related human rights abuses.  We have focused on cases where poor communities have confronted powerful multinational companies (MNCs) in an effort to seek justice. The project has included wide-ranging research as well as support to strategic litigation in several countries. Last month (March) we published a book, Injustice Incorporated, based on our research and practical legal work. The book highlights several obstacles to access to justice – one of which is the political power of MNCs, and the structures that underpin this power. These structures include the role of international financial institutions (IFIs) in laying the foundations for undue corporate influence on the governments and regulators in developing countries.

    April 08, 2014

    Germán chub speaks about the impact a Canadian company has had on him

    © James Rodríguez www.mimundo.org

    Imagine finding out that your drinking water is polluted, the walls of your house have cracked, you are developing rashes on your legs or a neighbour has just been attacked. These are some of the impacts that communities abroad sometimes experience when Canadian companies start mining for gold, nickel, oil or other resources nearby.

    When people are hurt by the actions of Canadian companies operating in other countries, does the Canadian government help them find justice in Canada? The sad answer is that it does not.

    Germán Chub is a young man from the community of La Unión in eastern Guatemala. Germán (pronounced erMAN) loves watching soccer.

    One day in September 2009, he was watching a game when he heard a disturbance not far from the field. He walked in the direction of the noise.

    April 07, 2014

    The Canadian Parliament must take a close look at the extreme violence facing Indigenous peoples in Colombia.

    Canada has entered into a free trade agreement with Colombia which promotes investment by Canadian companies seeking to benefit from a resource extraction boom in the South American country. Under the agreement, the government of Canada is obliged to submit an annual report to Parliament on human rights effects.

    It's time for Canada to take this responsibility seriously.

    Amnesty International has documented a pattern of violence against Indigenous leaders and communities in Colombia who oppose the imposition of economic projects, including resource extraction, that will impact on their land.

    Here's one example.

    Flaminio Onogama Gutiérrez is a prominent Indigenous human rights defender who visited Canada in 2010 to draw attention to the crisis facing Indigenous peoples in Colombia.

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