Take Action following event on How Mining Companies Silence Indigenous Peoples

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On 24 September 2020 in the event How do Mining Companies Silence and Nullify the Actions of Indigenous Peoples to Protect their Rights, the speakers drew attention to the need for stronger controls over the actions of multinational companies that violate rights and damage the environment.

The panel discussed how despite obtaining important Court decisions and agreements from Cerrejon the majority of these had not been implemented.

Social leaders in Colombia working on mining, land and environmental issues have been threatened and killed Colombia remains the most dangerous country in the world for Human Rights Defenders, the UN issued a public Statement on 23 August which stated that in 2020 there had been 33 massacres in Colombia and they had received reports of 97 human rights defenders/social leaders killed (47 had been verified and the rest were in the process of being verified. Misael talked about the psychological impact of the threats that he and his family and other social leaders and their families have suffered, how a knock on the door always led to the question who might this be.

The UK needs legislation to impose a duty to prevent human rights abuses, as well as an offence of “failure to prevent” human rights abuses for all companies, including parent companies, along the lines of the 2010 Bribery Act.This would require all companies to put in place effective human rights due diligence processes (as recommended by the UN Guiding Principles), both for their subsidiaries and across their whole supply chain. The legislation should enable remedies against the parent company and other companies when abuses do occur, so civil remedies (as well as criminal remedies) must be provided.

Adopting the “failure to prevent” mechanism is one that the 2017 the UK Joint Committee on Human Rights Report proposed, along the same lines as section 7 of the 2010 UK Bribery Act.

Other countries are going down this path for example the European Commissioner for Justice has announced that the European Commission will introduce legislation in 2021 to make human rights due diligence mandatory for EU companies, that the new law would include provisions for corporate liability,  as well as seeking to ensure access to remedy for victims of abuses. The UK needs similar legislation.

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