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New company survey & report urges European companies & states to step up efforts to identify & address risks to defenders

Human rights and environmental defenders play a key role in holding companies and states accountable for business-related human rights violations and environmental degradation. However, defenders are increasingly defamed, harassed and killed for protecting rights. Swedwatch report, based on a survey with 22 European companies and on interviews with defenders working on corporate responsibility or related issues, found that 10 of the 22 companies claim to include a risk assessment for defenders as part of their due diligence process, and assess limitations on the operating environment for defenders. No company acknowledged paying particular attention to defenders belonging to vulnerable groups. The report outlines steps that companies should take to help ensure that defenders can work in a safe and enabling environment and the role of states in addressing business-related attacks on defenders and highlights the need for legislation on mandatory human rights due diligence to ensure that companies respect defenders throughout their value chains.