Business and Human Rights
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.
The Nicaraguan government must stop placing business before the future of the country and its people, Amnesty International said in a new report today looking at a secretive deal that will lead to the construction of a canal and other side projects that will affect the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people and might leave many homeless.
Danger: Rights for sale. The Interoceanic Grand Canal project in Nicaragua and the erosion of human rights reveals how the obscure legal framework that led to the concession of the project, without genuine consultation with all affected communities, violates a catalogue of national and international standards on human rights and might lead to the forced eviction of hundreds of families. It also accuses authorities of harassing and persecuting anyone who dares to voice an opinion against the deal.
“Authorities in Nicaragua have secretly sold the country’s future to the highest bidder and put thousands of people at risk of losing everything,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.
New case could put an end to decades of impunity for Shell Esther Kiobel has fought for justice for her husband for more than twenty years
Oil giant Shell stands accused of complicity in the unlawful arrest, detention and execution of nine men who were hanged by Nigeria’s military government in the 1990s, Amnesty International can reveal today, following the launch of an explosive new case against the company in the Netherlands over four of the executions.
The civil case has been brought by Esther Kiobel, the widow of Dr Barinem Kiobel, and three other women. Esther Kiobel has pursued Shell for 20 years over the death of her husband. He was hanged in 1995 along with the writer and human rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, and seven other men, collectively known as the Ogoni Nine. At the time the executions sparked a global outcry.
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:
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.
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.
The Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability (CNCA), of which Amnesty International Canada is a member, is concerned and disappointed that the 2017 federal budget failed to announce the creation of a human rights ombudsperson for the extractive sector.
Communities, workers, and indigenous peoples outside of Canada whose human rights are impacted by Canadian extractive companies have few options to have their voices heard and their problems remedied. They continue to wait for the Canadian government to address the international corporate accountability gap and to advance human rights around the globe.
“The Government of Canada has said it shares the goal of ensuring that Canadian extractive companies respect the rights of all people, no matter where they operate”, said Moderator Jordan Cantwell of the United Church of Canada. “What we don’t know is why we haven’t yet seen concrete action when a ready-to-go proposal for a human rights ombudsperson has been handed to them.”
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.
Spokespeople available for interview
President Donald Trump’s proposed suspension of a ground-breaking transparency law on conflict minerals will reward irresponsible business practices and seriously undermine global human rights protections, Amnesty International said today.
“The conflict minerals law is a vital way of breaking the chain between horrific human rights abuses in Central Africa and consumer products like smart phones. By requiring companies to be transparent about how they source minerals, it throws light on shameful and secretive business practices that allow companies to benefit from conflict and abuse. Suspending it would be a boon to irresponsible companies and the perpetrators of violence in countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” said Audrey Gaughran, Head of Global Issues at Amnesty International.
“Claims by President Trump that blocking this vital human rights protection would somehow protect US national security is patently illogical and absurd. This is a shameless proposal which threatens to unravel years of progress in ending the trade in conflict minerals.
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.
A UK High Court ruling that two Niger Delta communities devastated by oil spills cannot have their claims against Shell heard in the UK could rob them of justice and allow UK multinationals to commit abuses overseas with impunity, Amnesty International said today.
The High Court ruled today that Royal Dutch Shell cannot be held responsible for the actions of its Nigerian subsidiary Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd. This is despite the company having profited from decades of abuses and environmental destruction in the Niger Delta. The communities are expected to appeal.
“The Ogale and Bille communities have been hit by multiple Shell spills, threatening their health and drinking water. The UN found groundwater contamination in Ogale was more than 450 times the legal limit – when Amnesty investigators went back four years later, Shell still hadn’t cleaned up the pollution. This ruling could mean that the communities will never receive meaningful compensation, and that the oil spills will be not be properly cleaned up,” said Joe Westby, Campaigner on Business and Human Rights at Amnesty International.
On Thursday 26 January the UK High Court will rule on whether two Niger Delta communities whose environment and livelihoods were destroyed by oil spills can have their claims against Shell heard in the UK. The case could set a precedent for holding other UK-based multinationals to account for abuses committed overseas.
“This ruling will have wide-ranging implications for corporations based in the UK that abuse human rights abroad. If the court rules that the communities cannot have their case heard in the UK it would effectively be a green light for UK multinationals to profit from human rights abuses and environmental destruction around the world,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.
Two separate legal actions have been brought against Shell on behalf of more than 42,000 people from the Ogale and Bille communities in Nigeria’s Rivers State, who live with appalling pollution caused by oil spills.