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Corporate Accountability

    January 18, 2018

     

    By Ian Heide, Business and Human Rights Coordinator

    Amnesty International is calling on the Governments of Nigeria, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands to launch investigations into the role of Shell Oil regarding the horrific crimes committed in Ogoniland by the Nigerian military during the 1990s. In 1995, nine men from Ogoniland were executed. The executions of the Ogoni Nine, after an unfair trial, were the culmination of a much broader crackdown on the Ogoni people by the Nigerian military government. Amnesty`s latest report focuses on widespread human rights violations including unlawful killings, torture, rape and the destruction of homes and property, carried out by the military in the years leading up to the executions in 1995.

    Amnesty International has reviewed thousands of pages of internal company documents and witness statements in order to reach this conclusion. The evidence shows that Shell repeatedly encouraged the Nigerian military to deal with community protests, even when they knew it would lead to massive human rights violations.

    January 17, 2018

    OTTAWA – The Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability (CNCA) is greatly encouraged by the Minister of International Trade’s announcement of the creation of a Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise. The human rights ombudsperson will investigate complaints concerning the overseas operations of Canadian companies and will issue public findings on allegations of harm. The office will make recommendations for redress; regarding corporate eligibility for government services; and with respect to policy and law reform.

    “Over the years, cases of real concern have mounted, involving worrying allegations that Canadian mining and other companies have been responsible for serious human rights abuses in countries around the world,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. “At long last there will be a body and process in place to hold Canadian companies accountable for human rights in their overseas operations.”

    January 15, 2018

    You probably already know that Canadian mining companies explore the world looking for gold, silver and other precious metals. But did you know that Canadian companies also regularly export big servings of human rights abuses alongside their mining projects?

    November 30, 2017

    We have some news! An important announcement may be imminent.

    The Canadian government may announce a human rights ombudsperson as soon as next week.

    A human rights ombudsperson is essential to ensure that people who have been harmed by Canadian mining, oil and gas companies overseas can have their cases heard in Canada.

    Amnesty International has been calling for the creation of a human rights ombudsperson for years. Thanks to you and over 100,000 other concerned Canadians who signed petitions and postcards, we are closer now than ever before.

    We have nearly convinced the government that Canada needs an ombudsperson. The final sticking point relates to the ombudsperson's investigatory powers.

    An ombudsperson needs to be able to review all the information related to a case in order to issue findings and recommendations. Unfortunately however, industry is pressuring the Canadian government to create a weak ombudsperson without effective investigatory powers. This will severely impair the ombudsperson’s ability to review evidence and make findings and recommendations.

    November 23, 2017
    Responding to reports that the London Metal Exchange has launched an investigation into whether cobalt mined by children is being traded in London, following an Amnesty International report linking several major brands to human rights abuses in the DRC, Seema Joshi, Head of Business and Human Rights at Amnesty International, said:   “Transparency is absolutely crucial for eradicating the scourge of child labour from cobalt battery supply chains and we welcome the London Metal Exchange’s pledge to shine a light into the dark corners of the cobalt trade.  
    November 22, 2017

    BC’s Court of Appeal today gave the green light to hearing an important corporate accountability lawsuit against Nevsun Resources. The Court of Appeal ruling allows the 3 Eritrean men who filed the lawsuit against the company for modern slavery, torture, forced labour and crimes against humanity to have their day in court. Nevsun’s Bisha mine was constructed using state-contracted companies and the Eritrean military, which used forced labour under what the plaintiffs describe as abhorrent conditions. The men described hunger, illness and harsh punishment as some of the conditions they endured while building the mine.

    Eritrea is known as one of the most repressive regimes in the world, with no working constitution, rule of law or independent judiciary. The lawsuit alleges that by entering into an agreement with the Eritrean regime, Nevsun expressly or implicitly supported the government’s widely-known – and greatly feared - conscription policy and therefore became an accomplice to forced labour, crimes against humanity and other human rights abuses at the Bisha mine.

    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.

    July 21, 2017

    On August 4th 2014, the tailings dam burst at Imperial Metals' Mount Polley Mine in central British Columbia, releasing a catastrophic 24 million cubic metres of mine waste into Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek, and Quesnel Lake - headwaters and spawning grounds of the Fraser River watershed.

    As of July 1st 2017, no charges or fines have been issued, despite most of the waste still lying at the bottom of fish-bearing lakes. The Mount Polley Mine has returned to full-scale operations and is now permanently discharging more wastewater into Quesnel Lake, and relying on the lake to dilute the waste in order to meet BC water quality limits. 

    Mount Polley Mine pollution is a major concern for several reasons:

    May 03, 2017

    By Fiona Koza

    Nevsun Resources has joined the ranks of Vancouver-based mining companies on trial for human rights abuses allegedly committed at overseas mines. Nevsun is accused of complicity in torture and slavery at its Bisha mine, a joint-venture with the government of Eritrea. Nevsun shareholders deserve to know about these extremely serious allegations, which is why several organizations including Amnesty International held a rally outside Nevsun Resource’s Annual General Meeting in Vancouver this morning.

    The lawsuit against Nevsun claims that the plaintiffs in the case were subject to “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” while forced to work at the company’s Bisha mine, facing “long hours, malnutrition and forced confinement for little pay.” They allege they “worked under the constant threat of physical punishment, torture and imprisonment” and that Nevsun, by entering into a commercial relationship with the government of Eritrea, “became an accomplice to the use of forced labour, crimes against humanity and other human rights abuses.”

    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:

    April 04, 2017

    Some of the world’s largest companies are selling food and cosmetics containing palm oil that is tainted by shocking human rights abuses, including forced and child labour. Corporate giants, such as Nestlé , Kellogg’s, Colgate, Unilever and Procter & Gamble are turning a blind eye to the exploitation of workers in their palm oil supply chain. These companies reassure their customers that they are using “sustainable” palm oil, yet Amnesty’s research reveals that the palm oil is anything but.

    These companies buy palm oil from plantations run by Wilmar in Indonesia. Amnesty has discovered severe labour abuses at Wilmar’s plantations, including unsafe working conditions, discrimination against women, unrealistic targets and penalties, and children doing hazardous work.

    Write a lettter:

    Contact the makers of Dove soap, KitKat chocolate bars, Knorr soup, Pantene shampoo, Gerber baby cereal, Colgate toothpaste, Palmolive dish soap and Magnum and Parlour ice cream and demand that they take responsibility for human rights abuses in their palm oil supply chain.

    March 08, 2017
    The Mount Polley mine disaster of 2014 opened a Pandora’s box, revealing weak mining laws, poor oversight and enforcement, poor corporate practices, underfunded financial sureties for mine clean up, poor dam design, and eye-brow raising corporate donations.

    The chaos of BC’s mining regulatory system was laid bare.  

    Today, the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre released a new report commissioned by the Fair Mining Collaborative. Together, the two groups also issued a formal request to Premier Christy Clark and the Lieutenant Governor in Council asking the government to establish a Judicial Commission of Public Inquiry into improving BC's mining regulations. 

    February 23, 2017
    From Mitchell Bay: Quesnel Lake frozen over
    Many of us have special places in nature that we go to when we need to unwind or think.

    These places may be dark forest trails that burst open into sunlit sandy beaches, tiny, hidden lakes, or rocky outcrops over-looking mighty rivers. Mine is a wide, sunny beach on the east coast of Vancouver Island. For Christine McLean, it’s a spot on her property in Mitchell Bay on Quesnel Lake, in central British Columbia.

    Christine is a water defender from Alberta who, together with her husband, bought their dream retirement property on the pristine lake a few years ago. At the time, she had no idea what the future would hold: a mining disaster of previously unseen proportions in Canada in the hills above the lake. The Mount Polley tailings pond breach of August 4, 2014, sent 24 million cubic litres of water and toxic mine waste into surrounding waters and ultimately, into Quesnel Lake.

    January 31, 2017

    In a precedent-setting ruling for human rights defenders, British Columbia’s Court of Appeal has ruled that a lawsuit against Tahoe Resources for the violent repression of a peaceful protest in Guatemala in 2013 may advance in Canada. The decision is a victory for seven Guatemalan men who suffered multiple gunshot wounds when they were allegedly shot by company security forces while peacefully protesting outside the entrance to the Escobal silver mine.

    “The ruling sends a clear message that Canadian companies operating abroad can and should be held accountable for allegations of human rights abuses in their operations overseas,” said Tara Scurr, Amnesty International Canada’s Business and Human Rights Campaigner. “For the first time in BC, a parent company will be called to answer for claims that human rights abuses were committed at one of its overseas operations. This is great news for corporate accountability in Canada”.

    November 25, 2016

    Thanks to the actions of thousands of Amnesty International supporters around the world, Apple, Samsung, Sony and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce are launching The Responsible Cobalt Initiative. The Initiative aims to improve the lives of children and adults who mine cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

    Ten months ago, Amnesty International research brought to light serious human rights abuses, including child labour, in cobalt mines in the DRC. Read more

    Cobalt is used to power our cell phones, yet no cell phone companies were addressing the problem. So Amnesty International campaigned throughout the year for electronics companies including Samsung and Apple to take responsibility for human rights abuses in their supply chain. Thanks to the actions by human rights supporters, we are starting to see some progress. The Initiative is a welcome first step, but it is crucial that we see improvements on the ground.

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