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Business and Human Rights

    August 20, 2018
    Have you always wondered what Amnesty's Business and Human Rights work is all about?

    Or, have you wondered why, for example, Amnesty campaigned for almost a decade for an Ombudsperson for Responsible Canadian Enterprise? In fact, what exactly is the Ombudsperson's job and how does it relate to Amnesty's human rights work? 

    And really, what is supply chain management and what does it have to do with child labour in the Democratic Republic of Congo and that cell phone in your pocket? 

    Is the Mount Polley mine disaster in BC something all mining-affected communities in Canada should be concerned about? 

    If you are new to Amnesty International Canada's Business and Human Rights campaign, or want to brush up on key issues related to corporate accountability and human rights in Canada, we've created a new, downloadable information kit for you. The fact sheets in the Corporate Accountability Information Kit can be used to: 

    August 03, 2018

    It’s been four long years since the Mount Polley copper mine breached its tailings pond, cutting a 9-kilometre path of destruction from the mine site to Quesnel Lake.

    Path of desctruction: tailing spill down Hazeltine Creek. Credit: Richard Holmes 

    In the days following the disaster, long-time area residents and Indigenous peoples mourned together for the many species of trout and salmon, insect and animal that lived along Hazeltine Creek and in Quesnel Lake.

    Day 5 of the Yuct Ne Senxiymetkwe Camp, established by Secwepemc women to bring together indigenous and settler commmunities in the wake of the August 2014 disaster. Credit: Kieran Oud 

    July 26, 2018

    The BC government has launched an Environmental Assessment Revitalization process as part of its commitment to reshape the way BC makes decisions about natural resource projects, industrial activities and more.

    YOU have an opportunity to help shape the future of environmental assessments in BC by providing your input.

    BC’s current environmental assessment law is failing British Columbians and the lands and waters we rely on. Amnesty International has joined 23 other environmental, social justice and community groups in putting forward a shared vision of what future environmental assessments should look like.

    June 12, 2018
    Solidarity image of members of CCDA

    Photo: Solidarity image, with members of CCDA.

    Attacks on defenders in Guatemala are rapidly escalating. In four short weeks seven human rights defenders have been killed. Three men from the Campesino Committee of the Highlands (CCDA) and four men from the Campesino Development Committee (CODECA) were violently murdered.

    It's important we call on authorities to stop this wave of killings - but also at times of crisis, the need to show meaningful solidarity with defenders becomes ever more necessary.

    Steps you can take to show solidarity

    1.      Write a message of solidarity and encouragement to show these brave activists that they are not alone or forgotten. The world is watching! You could make a card or drawing or simply hold up a sign as in the examples below. Take a close-up photo of yourself holding your solidarity message in English or Spanish and share it directly with the CCDA or CODECA:

    April 03, 2018

    We all want to be good, responsible people, don't we? But sometimes doing the right thing in our daily lives is made next-to-impossible by forces well beyond us. At these times, we need to work together, creatively, to do what's right. 

    Amnesty International's palm oil campaign gives you a chance to help fix a serious problem hidden in your breakfast cereal and possibly in the toothpaste you used this morning. Palm oil and palm oil ingredients are now in half of all consumer products, yet the harvesting of this product is leading to the exploitation of children, and human rights abuses of women and workers. 

    We have a plan to stop these abuses, and it starts with your signature.

    February 21, 2018
    J. J. Bowlen Catholic Junior High School

    Rafael Maldonado is a passionate advocate for justice, Indigenous rights and a healthy environment. He defends people who are attacked or criminalized for trying to protect their lands and waters from unwanted mining, hydro, or agricultural projects. In Santa Rosa, a rich agricultural region of south-eastern Guatemala, he defends the rights of people who worry that a Canadian silver mine is polluting and drying up their water sources. Several people in the communities surrounding the mine have been killed, shot, attacked, threatened and thrown in jail on false charges. 

    Because of his work at the Centre for Social, Environmental and Legal Action, to defend their rights and support their cause, he has been threatened, his colleagues shot, robbed or killed, and has had shots fired into a car outside his house. Amnesty International is very concerned about his safety. 

    November 10, 2017
    Amnesty International delegates standing in solidarity with defenders in Honduras

    Our driver from Tegucigalpa to La Esperanza needed nerves of steel as he swerved to avoid gaping potholes on a road banked by steep drops to the river below. 

    But any risks we faced on the journey to visit COPINH, the organization of murdered Lenca Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres, were nothing in comparison to the ongoing dangers faced by her family and colleagues. 

    Our Amnesty delegation of campaigners from Canada, Spain, Sweden, Mexico and the United States arrived at COPINH’s office to find images of Berta everywhere. 

    October 11, 2017

    “Our economy walks on the land and swims in the waters”

    In a one-room, circular building, modelled on a traditional Secwepemc winter pit house, water defender Jacinda Mack stands before the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights and describes the effects of colonialism on her people, the Secwepemc of British Columbia. The consequences of more than 150 years of government assault on Indigenous identity and self-determination are personally exhausting, she says. However, her love of her people and the waters of her territory motivate her to keep fighting for justice.

    August 18, 2017
    Photo of the sun in a hazy orange sky

    By Uyanda Mabece

    “We were not fighting anyone, we were sitting there to demand our right to earn a decent living wage. The police were wrong.” 

    That is the assessment of a former rock drill operator at Lonmin mine. Justin Kolobe, who did not want to use his real name, was present on August 16 2012 when members of the South African Police Service opened fire on striking mineworkers in Marikana, killing 34 of them.

    He was on the frontline of the labour dispute. He wanted to earn a minimum wage of R12 500 a month. 

    After the shooting he was left permanently paralysed and without a job. Like the families of the mineworkers who were shot dead by police, and 70 others who suffered injuries, five years later Kolobe is still waiting for justice and reparations. He lays the blame for the lack of progress squarely on the government.

    He believes that if the authorities were serious about ensuring accountability for the killings, senior officials and police officers suspected of criminal responsibility would have been tried by now in a competent court of law.

    August 07, 2017

    By Jackie McVicar, Atlantic Region Solidarity Network

    Bev Sellars is constantly reminded about the deeply personal, social and cultural loss that she and others in her community of Williams Lake have suffered since the Mount Polley mine disaster in 2014. A few weeks ago, when the former Chief of the Xat’sull First Nation at Soda Creek, British Columbia was forced to evacuate her home because of the raging wildfires, she looked around and wondered what to take.

    April 13, 2017

    On May 9th, a provincial election will be held in British Columbia. Amnesty International  is urging all candidates to make clear public commitments to closing crucial gaps in oversight, accountability, and service delivery that jeopardize the safety, health and well-being of many British Columbians and undermine human rights protection in the province.

    We need your help! We're asking all our supporters in British Columbia to help us ensure that human rights are part of this election.

    Here's how: 

    1. Learn more 

    Amnesty International has issued an open letter to all candidates in this election outlining our concerns, including:

    March 27, 2017

    By Tara Scurr, Business and Human Rights Campaigner. Follow Tara on Twitter @AIBHRGuatemala.

    The Mount Polley copper mine tailings pond spill in August 2014 may have faded from the headlines, but people in BC living near the spill site who rely on the region for food, medicines and livelihoods are still suffering from all they have lost. And, they are concerned that Quesnel Lake and its tributaries may be irreversibly contaminated by toxic tailings from the spill and ongoing mine water discharges. 

    February 10, 2017

    Young activists from Guatemala recently shared with Amnesty International their experiences and motivations for putting their lives on the line to fight for the rights of their communities and the environment.

    On April 27, 2013, Luis Fernando Garcia Monroy was shot and seriously injured alongside his father, Adolfo, outside the entrance to Tahoe Resource’s Escobal silver mine. The BC Court of Appeal has just ruled that the case against Tahoe Resources for the shootings can go ahead in Canada. After the attack and in response to the death of a 16 year old activist in their community, Luis Fernando and his friends started a peaceful resistance group to give youth a voice.

    Here is their story, in their own words.

    February 03, 2017

    Adolfo Garcia (pictured, second from the left), is a quiet, serious middle-aged farmer from Guatemala. Once the Guatemalan government began issuing mining licenses in Santa Rosa, he dedicated his life to protecting the land and water for future generations of farmers and residents of his small town in south-east Guatemala.

    Adolfo has since experienced terrible injustice and violence. During a peaceful protest in 2013, Adolfo, his son, and five other men were shot and gravely injured outside a silver mine owned by Canadian company, Tahoe Resources. Adolfo’s then-teenaged son, Luis Fernando, was shot in the face, requiring extensive and painful reconstructive surgeries to enable him to breathe again. Adolfo and his wife nearly lost their family home to pay for the operations. 

    December 07, 2016
    Peruvian water and land defender Máxima Acuña is one of 10 individuals and communities we're taking action for during Write for Rights on Saturday, December 10th, International Human Rights Day. Join Write for Rights to stand with Máxima! 

    Máxima Acuña is a water and land defender in Peru. She has survived years of harassment, intimidation and vicious beatings by police and mining company security personnel over her right to defend the environment and her home from a massive gold and copper mine.

    Her property shares a watershed with 4 lagoons that, if the company gets its way, would be drained and turned into tailings ponds. She has been forced into court to defend her family’s property rights to the land where they live and grow crops –and she has won. In September, she was beaten severely. It is staggering to comprehend the level of violence she has endured to defend her rights. 

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