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Business and Human Rights

    November 26, 2014
    Rampyari Bai is one of Bhopal’s most persistent survivors.

    Now aged 90, she began her struggle in the wake of the disaster. In 1984 she was living with her son and his wife in a shanty near the factory. Her daughter-in-law died during the gas leak.

    INDIA: ACTION FOR SURVIVORS ON 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF BHOPAL TRAGEDY

    November 24, 2014

    Released 10am GMT 24 November 2014

    A Belgian mining company, Groupe Forrest International, has consistently lied about the bulldozing of hundreds of homes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and has denied justice to those affected, said Amnesty International today in a new report. 

    Bulldozed: How a mining company buried the truth about forced evictions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo provides satellite imagery and other new evidence, exposing how the company’s subsidiary, Entreprise Général Malta Forrest (EGMF), supplied bulldozers that were used to unlawfully demolish homes and forcibly evict hundreds of people living next to the company’s Luiswishi mine in Kawama, Katanga in 2009. It also details how the companies and the Congolese government have obstructed attempts to achieve justice for the villagers ever since.

    “There is now overwhelming and irrefutable evidence showing that the forced evictions that Groupe Forrest International has denied for years in fact took place,” said Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s’s Global Issues Director.

    November 20, 2014

    UK authorities must launch a long-overdue criminal investigation into a British company’s role in one of the worst toxic waste dumping incidents of the last decade, Amnesty International said today after the Environment Agency finally agreed to review evidence submitted by the organization.

    It took the threat of court action for the agency to backpedal from its earlier refusal to review a legal brief making the case that UK-based Trafigura Limited may have conspired to dump the toxic waste in Côte d’Ivoire.

    The August 2006 incident triggered an environmental and health disaster in Abidjan: at least 15 people are reported to have died, more than 100,000 sought urgent medical assistance and contamination still lingers despite extensive clean-up.

    “Refusing to investigate Trafigura’s role in what was a devastating crime showed contempt for the UK’s international human rights obligations. The glaring absence of any deterrent gives UK-based corporations a green light to commit serious abuses abroad,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International. 

    November 12, 2014

    Court documents revealed by Amnesty International today expose the fact that Shell has repeatedly made false claims about the size and impact of two major oil spills at Bodo in Nigeria in an attempt to minimize its compensation payments. The documents also show that Shell has known for years that its pipelines in the Niger Delta were old and faulty.

    The potential repercussions are that hundreds of thousands of people may have been denied or underpaid compensation based on similar underestimates of other spills.
    The irrefutable evidence that Shell underestimated the Bodo spills emerged in a UK legal action brought by 15,000 people whose livelihoods were devastated by oil pollution in 2008. The court action has forced Shell to finally admit the company has underplayed the true magnitude of at least two spills and the extent of damage caused.

    “Amnesty International firmly believes Shell knew the Bodo data were wrong. If it did not it was scandalously negligent – we repeatedly gave them evidence showing they had dramatically underestimated the spills,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director for Global Issues at Amnesty International.

    November 12, 2014

    US chemical giant Dow has dodged justice again today by failing to comply with an Indian court summons over the catastrophic 1984 gas leak in Bhopal which left thousands dead and many more with chronic and debilitating illnesses, Amnesty International said.

    “The Dow Chemical Company is once again thumbing its nose at the tens of thousands of victims and survivors of India’s worst industrial disaster. Sadly, this appalling lack of responsibility is what we’ve come to expect after years of Dow’s denials,” said Shailesh Rai, Programmes Director, Amnesty International India.

    “The governments of India and the USA must do more to ensure that Dow complies with orders by the Indian courts.”

    For 13 years, Dow has denied that it has any responsibility towards the victims and survivors of Bhopal. In a letter to Amnesty International earlier this year, a Dow official stated that efforts to involve the corporation in Indian court proceedings were “without merit” and tried to distance Dow from its wholly owned subsidiary Union Carbide Corporation (UCC).

    November 06, 2014

    Released 7 November 2014 00.01 GMT

    Hollywood movie star Martin Sheen will join Amnesty International’s battle to finally hold Union Carbide accountable for what is widely considered to be one of the world’s worst industrial disasters as he launches his latest film in Los Angeles on Friday.

        “

        Those who survived have faced long-term health problems, but receive little medical help. For 30 years the survivors of Bhopal have campaigned for justice, for fair compensation, health care and for Union Carbide, now owned by Dow Chemicals, to be held to account. 


    Martin Sheen, actor

    September 25, 2014

    “It’s been hard, because it’s not easy to bear being spat at in the face, being pushed and shoved, the tear gas, the tussles with the police, and we women having to throw ourselves on the ground. That is tough. It’s tough and it’s not easy to bear it, but we do it because we believe in our struggle and in asserting our rights.” 

    Yolanda Oqueli, a leader from San Jose del Golfo in Guatemala, shared those words with me last year, describing her community’s ongoing struggle to compel the Guatemalan government to respect their rights in the context of a Canadian-initiated mining project.

    Canada has a large stake in Guatemala’s mining sector, accounting for 88 per cent of all current mining operations. The country’s mining production was valued at over US $600 million in 2012.

    How could anything be wrong with Canada playing such a huge role in the country’s growing mining sector, one could wonder?  It is all about human rights.

    September 19, 2014

     

    by Alex Neve, Secretary General, and Tara Scurr, Business and Human Rights Campaigner
    Amnesty International Canada

     - Guatemala City, Guatemala, 18 September, 2014

    What better way to spend the evening before launching our important new report, Mining in Guatemala: Rights at Risk?  Over dinner, we were able to catch up with the courageous community leader and human rights defender Yolanda Oquelí.  Yolanda has for several years been at the forefront of the campaign to ensure that mining does not go ahead in her community without consultation and consent. She has been a leader of the La Puya protest camp, which blockaded the road leading in to the mining site for over two years.

    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.

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