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Corporate Accountability

    August 28, 2012

    Amnesty International has accused the UK-registered mining company Vedanta of attempting to “gloss over” criticisms of its poor human rights record in the East Indian state of Orissa by publishing a “meaningless and hollow” report that puts forward the company’s own account of its operations there.  

    With the company staging its annual general meeting today (28 August) in London, Amnesty believes the “Vedanta’s Perspective” report is an attempt to calm investor fears over its controversial operations in India as it seeks to expand them.

    Amnesty International has responded with its own briefing, accusing the company of ignoring the reality of the mining giant’s impact on the human rights of local communities in Orissa.

    For example, Amnesty International reports that Vedanta has not disclosed relevant information to local communities – such as the impact of pollution caused by the company’s activities, and has not held meaningful public consultations.  

    February 17, 2012

    Canada’s record will be reviewed by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva on 22 and 23 February in Geneva. In advance of the session Amnesty International has submitted a 45 page briefing on matters that must be addressed. The briefing covers the critical issues of protection of the rights of Indigenous Peoples, refugees and migrants, and racism in connection with national security issues.

    “Despite constitutional recognition of the rights of Indigenous peoples, equality guarantees in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and other protections for diverse communities in the country, racism continues to be a serious human rights challenge in Canada,” says Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada’s English branch.

    February 01, 2012

    Amnesty International is deeply disappointed to learn about the recent decision made by the Canadian Quebec Court of Appeal to refuse jurisdiction to hear a class action brought on behalf of Congolese citizens against the Canadian company, Anvil Mining Limited (“Anvil Mining”), for serious human rights abuses committed in Kilwa in 2004, otherwise known as “the Kilwa Massacre.”


    On 25 January 2012, the Quebec Court of Appeal reversed the decision of the Superior Court judge Honorable Benoît Emery determining that sufficient links to Quebec existed for establishing Quebec’s jurisdiction and thus allowing the case to proceed so that the substance of the allegations could be heard. (1) 


    In his decision, Judge Emery stated:

    (translation) "In fact, at this stage of the proceedings, everything indicates that if the Tribunal dismissed the action on the basis of article 3135 C.C.Q. [which allows the court to decline jurisdiction if another forum is more appropriate], there would exist no other possibility for the victims to be heard by civil justice.”

    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.

    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 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.
     

    August 19, 2011

    Côte d’Ivoire’s new government must ensure that the compensation paid out by the oil-trading corporate group Trafigura reaches the thousands of victims affected by a toxic waste dumping in 2006, Amnesty International said today, on the fifth anniversary of the disaster.

    Trafigura has paid US$260 million in a number of payouts but much of the money remains unaccounted for and thousands of victims have not received anything.

    “It is unacceptable that so many people who were affected by the dumping have not received the compensation money they are entitled to,” said Benedetta Lacey, Amnesty International’s special advisor on corporate accountability.

    “These payouts have been dogged by repeated delays and a lack of transparency. President Ouattara’s government must act decisively to show that corruption and misappropriation of funds will not be tolerated.”

    The dumping of toxic waste five years ago, in 2006, affected more than 100,000 people in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire’s commercial capital.

    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.

    June 03, 2011

    Indian authorities must immediately release two activists arrested apparently for their work to protect local communities from industrial pollution, Amnesty International said today, after one of the men was found chained to a hospital bed while in custody.

    Environmental activist Ramesh Agrawal and Harihar Patel, who practices indigenous medicine, were arrested on 28 May in Raigarh town in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh after leading a campaign to protect local Adivasi (Indigenous) communities from pollution caused by industrial projects.

    The men have been held at Raigarh prison as a local court denied them bail on 2 June. During his detention, Ramesh Agrawal, who suffers from hypertension, was taken for treatment at a state-run hospital where he was chained to a bed.

    “Shackling someone who is ill to a hospital bed is inherently cruel and inhumane punishment that should never have been used on a detainee arrested for peaceful activism,” said Madhu Malhotra, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director.

    June 02, 2011

    The Brazilian authorities must ensure the rights of indigenous communities living around the river Xingu are respected and protected, Amnesty International said today as Brazil’s environmental agency approved the construction of the Belo Monte dam.

    “Brazil must abide by the recommendations issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to suspend the construction of the Belo Monte dam until the rights of local indigenous communities are fully guaranteed,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Americas Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    “Continuing with the construction of the Belo Monte Dam before ensuring the rights of indigenous communities are protected is equivalent to sacrificing human rights for development.”

    Last April, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said the license for the construction of the Belo Monte dam should be suspended until indigenous communities are fully and effectively consulted – including by having access to a Social and Environmental Impact Assessment of the project in their languages -- and measures are put in place to protect the lives of communities in voluntary isolation.

    June 01, 2011

    Amnesty International has warned that thousands of families in the Indian state of Orissa are facing serious health risks during the imminent monsoon season following reports of leaks at the Vedanta Aluminium refinery’s main ‘red mud pond’, a vast reservoir of toxic residue.

    The organization has obtained video footage taken by people living in the Lanjigarh area showing two recent serious breaches of the pond following heavy rains, with gushing liquid flowing onto nearby roads.

    An estimated four to five thousand families in 12 villages are threatened by the leaks, which could worsen during heavy monsoon rains.

    “Vedanta and the authorities must take action – with rainy season approaching the situation is a ticking time bomb. The red mud pond poses a serious threat to the health, livelihoods and safety of the local people” said Ramesh Gopalakrishnan, Amnesty International’s South Asia Researcher.

    April 08, 2011

    The Peruvian authorities must refrain from using excessive force against people protesting against a large mining project, Amnesty International said today, after two protesters were shot dead and scores were injured in clashes with police.

    The clashes came during demonstrations Thursday against the “Tía Maria” mining project in the southern province of Islay, Amnesty International said today.

    “The Peruvian authorities must investigate the killings and begin a fair consultation process with those communities that may be affected by the mining project, said Nuria García, Amnesty International’s researcher on Peru

    Another protestor was killed on Monday amid confrontations with police in Islay province. Eleven other people, including three people officers, were also injured.

    The dead protestors are Aurelio Huarcapoma, 50, and Néstor Cerezo Patana, 31. Three protesters have now been killed this week amid the disturbances. Andrés Taype Chuquipima, 22, was reportedly shot dead from behind by police officers on Monday.

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