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Business and Human Rights

    January 26, 2012

    London 2012 Olympic organisers must admit their mistake in awarding a lucrative contract to the Dow Chemical Company, Amnesty International said today after the Games' ethics commissioner quit over human rights concerns about the company.

    Meredith Alexander, appointed by London's Mayor Boris Johnson to monitor the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), resigned in protest at the sponsorship deal with Dow due to its connection to the Bhopal disaster.

    Dow owns US-based Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), the company that held a majority share in the Indian subsidiary that owned and operated the UCC plant responsible for the 1984 gas leak disaster, which killed thousands of people.

    January 24, 2012

    Amnesty International has called on the Brazilian authorities to urgently address the needs of some 1,600 families made homeless by a forced eviction in a settlement in São Paulo state, Brazil.

    The eviction, which has been ongoing since Sunday, was carried out without prior warning, while negotiations were still under way and without provision of alternative housing.

    Violent clashes between police and residents continued into Monday after a state judge ordered almost 2,000 police officers into the Pinheirinho settlement on the outskirts of São José dos Campos. Police authorities say the eviction will finish tomorrow.

    “This eviction violates a raft of international standards," said Atila Roque, the director of Amnesty International, Brazil.

    “The operation was carried out in a deeply inappropriate manner: early in the morning on a Sunday and without any adequate warning. It was pushed through even though negotiations with authorities to find a peaceful way out were ongoing,” he said.

    January 20, 2012

    Indian authorities should order the immediate clean-up of Vedanta's alumina refinery in the state of Orissa, Amnesty International said today after a court dismissed the mining company's plea for a six-fold expansion of the plant.

    The High Court of Orissa on Thursday dismissed a plea from Vedanta Aluminium, a fully owned subsidiary of UK-based Vedanta Resources, to review a similar court order from July 2011. Vedanta has promised to challenge the decision in India’s Supreme Court.

    The July 2011 order had upheld the Indian government's August 2010 decision to reject Vedanta Aluminium's plans for the expansion of the Lanjigarh refinery after finding that the project violated the country's environmental laws.

    Research by Amnesty International and other local and international groups documents the serious and continuing pollution caused by the refinery’s operations. Despite the string of decisions against Vedanta, the company has failed to remedy the pollution.

    January 05, 2012

    The Nigerian authorities must immediately end excessive use of force against protesters, Amnesty International said today after at least one person was killed in Kwara state during protests over fuel price rises.

    Witnesses say a student, 23-year-old Muyideen Mustapha, was shot by police attempting to disperse protesters in the state capital of Ilorin on Tuesday.

    December 23, 2011

    A Dutch court’s decision to uphold a guilty verdict against the multinational company, Trafigura, for illegally exporting toxic waste is an important step towards justice for the thousands of people affected by the dumping in Côte d’Ivoire, Amnesty International said today.

    A judge rejected Trafigura’s appeal against its previous conviction for illegally delivering hazardous waste to Amsterdam while concealing its true nature, and for exporting the waste to Côte D’Ivoire in 2006.

    “This is a damning verdict against Trafigura which has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing," said Benedetta Lacey, a special advisor at Amnesty International who has visited Côte d’Ivoire and met victims of the dumping.

    “The verdict is clear: Trafigura is criminally accountable for having concealed the harmful nature of the waste on delivery in Amsterdam and for having illegally exported the waste to Cote d’Ivoire. In particular we welcome the court’s finding that EU regulations on hazardous waste did apply in this case.”

    December 02, 2011

    Amnesty International has urged London's Olympic organizers not to forget the victims of the Bhopal disaster as they award a lucrative contract for the Games to the Dow Chemical Company.

    Dow owns Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), the company that held a majority share in the Indian subsidiary that owned and operated the UCC plant responsible for the 1984 gas leak disaster, which killed thousands of people 27 years ago today. 

    Dow is due to provide a plastic wrap that will encircle the London 2012 Olympic Stadium during the Games, despite concerns about its human rights record.

    "The awarding of this contract to Dow is an insult to the victims of the Bhopal disaster, whose suffering continues till this day," said Seema Joshi, Amnesty International’s Head of Business and Human Rights.

    Lord Sebastian Coe, chairman of The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), last week wrote a letter to Amnesty International dismissing human rights concerns about Dow.

    Dow says it has no responsibility for the leak and its consequences, despite the fact UCC became a wholly owned subsidiary of Dow in 2001.

    November 17, 2011

    Indian authorities must ensure a thorough investigation into the killing of a nun who had worked for the rights of adivasi indigenous communities, Amnesty International said today.

    Valsa John, 52, is the fourth social activist to have been killed in unexplained circumstances in India this year

    She was beaten to death by a gang of about 40 people who stormed into her home in the eastern state of Jharkhand on the night of 15 November.

    "Valsa John appears to have been murdered in connection with her human rights work," said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific director.

    "The Jharkhand authorities must ensure that those responsible for this gruesome killing are brought to justice.

    “Indian federal and state authorities have to ensure that human rights activists throughout the country are protected."

    Valsa John's family and human rights activists in Jharkhand told Amnesty International she had received death threats hours before her murder in Pauchuara, Pakur district.

    November 10, 2011

     Shell must commit to pay an initial US$1 billion to begin the clean-up of pollution caused by oil spills in the Niger Delta, Amnesty International and the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) said today.
     
    A new report by the two groups released today, The true tragedy: delays and failures in tackling oil spills in the Niger Delta looks at the ongoing devastation caused by two major oil spills which took place at Bodo, Ogoniland, in 2008, and which have never been cleaned up. 
     
    The UN Environment Programme recently found that oil pollution over many years had resulted in such devastation that it would take more than 25 years for Ogoniland to recover. The UN recommended setting up an Environmental Restoration Fund with an initial amount of US$1 billion, with further funding to follow.
     

    October 24, 2011

    Chemical giant Dow’s high profile contract with London’s 2012 Olympic Games is a slap in the face for the survivors of India’s Bhopal poison gas disaster who, 27 years on, still wait for justice, Amnesty International said today.  

    Dow Chemical Company has been granted a contract to provide a decorative fabric wrap to encircle London’s Olympic stadium during the next year’s Games.

    Since 2001, Dow has been a 100% owner of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), the company which held a majority share in the Indian subsidiary that owned and operated the UCC plant responsible for the 1984 Bhopal disaster.

    “The Olympic Committee’s guidelines on sustainable sourcing are meant to place a high priority on environmental, social and ethical issues when procuring material for the Games,” said Seema Joshi, Amnesty International’s Head of Business and Human Rights.  

    October 18, 2011

    The USA, Russia and European countries supplied large quantities of weapons to repressive governments in the Middle East and North Africa before this year’s uprisings despite having evidence of a substantial risk that they could be used to commit serious human rights violations, Amnesty International said today in a new report.

    Arms Transfers To The Middle East And North Africa: Lessons For An Effective Arms Trade Treaty examines arms transfers to Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen since 2005.

    "These findings highlight the stark failure of existing arms export controls, with all their loopholes, and underline the need for an effective global Arms Trade Treaty that takes full account of the need to uphold human rights." said Helen Hughes, Amnesty International’s principal arms trade researcher on the report.

    October 11, 2011

    (Kyiv) A former Ukrainian prime minister jailed today for abuse of office must be released, Amnesty International said today.

    Yuliya Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years imprisonment and barred from holding public office for three years by a Kyiv court for signing a multi-million dollar energy contract with Russia in January 2009, while she was Prime Minister.

    “The prosecution against Yuliya Timoshenko is politically motivated. The charges against her are not internationally recognizable offences, they are attempts to criminalize decisions that she made in the course of her work," said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Programme Director of Amnesty International.

    "Poor political decisions of this kind – if that is what they were - should be punished by voters, not through courts. Her conviction on these charges is illegitimate and she should be immediately released."

    Yuliya Tymoshenko, a prominent opposition leader, was Prime Minister from January to September 2005 and again from December 2007 to March 2010.

    October 10, 2011

    The Indonesian authorities must immediately investigate the use of deadly force by police at a mining protest, Amnesty International said today after one protester was killed and at least six injured.

    Indonesian security forces opened fire on striking workers of a gold and copper mine in the eastern province of Papua run by US company Freeport-Mcmoran on Monday. Some 8,000 workers at the mine have been on strike since 15 September, after demands for a pay rise reached a deadlock.

    “This latest incident shows that Indonesian police have not learned how to deal with protesters without resorting to excessive, and even lethal, force,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director.

    “The police have a duty to protect themselves and uphold the law, but it is completely unacceptable to fire live ammunition at these protesters,” he said.

    “The authorities must launch an independent and impartial investigation into this tragedy, and ensure that the results are made public,” he added.

    August 04, 2011

    The oil company Shell has had a disastrous impact on the human rights of the people living in the Niger Delta in Nigeria, said Amnesty International, responding to a UN report on the effects of oil pollution in Ogoniland in the Delta region.

    The report from the United Nations Environment Programme is the first of its kind in Nigeria and based on two years of in-depth scientific research. It found that oil contamination is widespread and severe, and that people in the Niger Delta have been exposed for decades.

    “This report proves Shell has had a terrible impact in Nigeria, but has got away with denying it for decades, falsely claiming they work to best international standards,” said Amnesty International Global Issues Director, Audrey Gaughran, who has researched the human rights impacts of pollution in the Delta.

    July 24, 2011

    Ongoing attempts by UK-based mining company Vedanta Resources to overturn an Indian government decision blocking a proposed bauxite mine and expansion of an alumina refinery in Orissa should not be allowed to succeed, new report by Amnesty International says.

    The report, Generalisations, Omissions, Assumptions, reveals that the company has failed to adequately consider the human impact of its proposed projects with an investment of US$ 1,7 billion in Orissa.

    “Vedanta’s mine and refinery expansion projects must not be allowed to go ahead. The company is trying to overturn the Indian Environment Ministry’s decision to block its plans, claiming they have taken into account the impact on the local people and environment. In fact Vedanta’s Environmental Impact Assessments have been wholly inadequate.” said Madhu Malhotra, Amnesty International’s Asia Deputy Director.

    The High Court of Orissa on Tuesday upheld the Indian government's decision made in August 2010, to reject Vedanta's plans for the six-fold expansion of the Lanjigarh refinery, finding that the project violated the country’s environmental laws.

    July 19, 2011

    Amnesty International has urged the Indian authorities to order the immediate clean-up of an alumina refinery in the state of Orissa, following a high court decision to reject plans for its expansion by a subsidiary of the UK-based Vedanta Resources.

    The High Court of Orissa on Tuesday upheld the Indian government's decision made in August 2010, to reject Vedanta Aluminium's plans for the six-fold expansion of the Lanjigarh refinery, finding that the project violated the country’s environmental laws.

    Vedanta Aluminium challenged the Ministry of Environment and Forest's decision in the high court on November 2010.
           
    "This decision is of tremendous significance for the local communities, who have been fighting to prevent this expansion going ahead," said Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific Deputy Director, Madhu Malhotra.

    "The refinery, which has been in operation for four years, fails to meet accepted national and international standards in relation to its environmental, social and human rights impact. The authorities must order an immediate clean-up of the site and monitor the health status of the local communities.

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