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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.

    March 15, 2018
    A groundbreaking research project by Amnesty International has exposed evidence of serious negligence by oil giants Shell and Eni, whose irresponsible approach to oil spills in the Niger Delta is exacerbating an environmental crisis.   Through the Decoders network, an innovative platform developed by Amnesty International to crowdsource human rights research, the organization enlisted thousands of supporters and activists to collect data about oil spills in the Niger Delta. Their findings were then analyzed by Amnesty International’s researchers and verified by Accufacts, an independent pipelines expert.   According to this publicly available data, Amnesty International found that Shell and Eni are taking weeks to respond to reports of spills and publishing misleading information about the cause and severity of spills, which may result in communities not receiving compensation.  
    March 06, 2018

    In January 2018, the Canadian Minister for International Trade announced the creation of an Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise. Now people who have been harmed by the overseas activities of Canadian mining, oil, gas and garment companies will be able to submit their complaints to an independent ombudsperson for investigation. The ombudsperson will make its findings public and provide recommendations for redress.

    The creation of ombudsperson will help ensure that Canada is finally “Open for Justice”.

    Some elements of the ombudsperson have yet to be defined however. Amnesty will continue to work with the Canadian government to ensure that the ombudsperson office will be credible and effective. In order to be credible and effective, we believe it is vital that the ombudsperson be free from political and corporate interference, and be empowered to conduct effective investigations, including the ability to gather evidence that may be in a company’s possession.

    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. 

    January 31, 2018

    Eleven years after 540,000 litres of toxic waste were dumped in Côte d’Ivoire’s economic capital Abidjan, victims are still in the dark about the potential long-term impacts on their health, Amnesty International said today, following the publication of a long-awaited report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

    More than 100,000 people sought medical assistance, after a local company hired by the commodities giant Trafigura dumped toxic waste at various sites around Abidjan in August 2006. Reported symptoms included breathing difficulties and burning skin, and to this day people complain of serious health issues they believe are related to the incident, including skin and eye problems.

    January 17, 2018

    Ronal David Barillas Díaz, a community leader and human rights defender was killed on the morning of 9 January in Taxisco, Santa Rosa, Guatemala. His attackers got out of a vehicle, walked to the newspaper and food stall where he worked and shot him at least six times, before fleeing the scene.

    Amnesty International utterly condemns this attack and urges the Guatemalan authorities to initiate a thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the death of the human rights defender and to put in place, without delay, a comprehensive public policy for the protection of human rights defenders in the country.

    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.”

    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 27, 2017
    Massive cache of internal documents and other evidence points to Shell’s complicity in horrific crimes committed by the Nigerian military in the 1990s New Amnesty International report calls for a criminal investigation

    Amnesty International is calling on Nigeria, the UK and the Netherlands to launch investigations into Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell, over its role in a swathe of horrific crimes committed by the Nigerian military government in the oil-producing Ogoniland region in the 1990s.

    The organization has released a ground-breaking review of thousands of pages of internal company documents and witness statements, as well as Amnesty International’s own archive from the period.

    The Nigerian military’s campaign to silence the Ogoni people’s protests against Shell’s pollution led to widespread and serious human rights violations, many of which also amounted to criminal offences.

    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.

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