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Business, civic freedoms and human rights defenders: Which developments and ideas did we put in the spotlight?

We continuously highlight important developments, research, actions and ideas at the intersection of business, civic freedoms and the work of human rights defenders:

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Article
21 March 2017

Guatemala: Communities present report of attacks against human rights defenders opposing hydroelectric projects before Inter-American Commission

Author: Acompañamiento de Austria (ADA); Asamblea Departamental de Pueblos de Huehuetenango (ADH); Asociación de Abogados Mayas de Guatemala; Asociación Indígena Ch`Orti` Nuevo Día; Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA); Business and Human Rights Resource Center; Consejo del Pueblo Maya (CPO) Consejo Mam; Guatemala Human Rights Commission, USA (GHRC); Guatemala Solidarity Network; Microregión de Ixquisis, San Mateo Ixtatán; The Swedish Fellowship of Reconciliation (SweFOR); PAYXAIL YAJAW KONOB (Gobierno Ancestral Plurinacional) AKATEKA, CHUJ, POPTI’, Q’ANJOB’AL; International Platform Against Impunity; Protection International; Proyecto Acompañamiento Quebec Guatemala Montréal, Canadá; Resistencia Río Dolores y la Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos (UDEFEGUA)

Full version in Spanish

A coalition of communities and organizations denounced human rights violations against traditional and indigenous communities in Guatemala, at a hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Because of their opposition to large hydroelectric projects, the human rights defenders have been threatened, assaulted, treated as criminals, and assassinated...A report filed before the Commission, featuring 10 different cases, notes that various communities confronting these projects have faced rights abuses including violations of their rights to free, prior, informed, and culturally appropriate consultation; self-determination; due process; and life...The report also outlines how those who defend affected people and communities have been victims of threats and aggressions. The most common attacks include arrest warrants (103), assaults resulting in injuries (56), imprisonment (36), detention (25), criminalization (16), and threats (15). There have been 11 documented murders and three conflict-related deaths in communities that oppose these hydroelectric projects...At least 19 companies are linked to hydroelectric projects in Guatemala, of which 55 percent are national, 40 percent are transnational, and five percent are State-owned. 

Guatemala_HRD_Credit_Inter_American_Human_Rights_Commission

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Article
7 March 2017

One year without justice: In-depth interview with Laura Zúñiga, daughter of killed human rights defender Berta Cáceres and COPINH member

In time for the 1st anniversary of the killing of her mother Berta Caceres, the renowned environmental activist, human rights defender of rights of Lenca people, leader of COPINH and known opponent of the Agua Zarca dam in rio Blanco in Honduras, we talk to Laura Zúñiga, a COPINH member and an articulate activist in her own right. She shares her thoughts on the investigation of the murder, on what investors and companies could be doing to prevent and address abuses against human rights defenders, on the proposed law on consultation in Honduras and on how development discourse should change – to protect the defenders and the planet.

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Article
3 March 2017

Complaint against Centro de Estudios de la Mujer – Honduras

Author: Front Line Defenders

...On 28 February 2017, two days before the one-year anniversary of the killing of Berta Cáceres, Suyapa Martínez was notified that DESA had filed a lawsuit against CEM-H, based on declarations made by the human rights defender as a representative of the organization concerning the murder of Berta Cáceres. Suyapa Martínez publicly alleged that DESA was involved in the planning of the crime. On 2 May 2016, four men were arrested in connection with the murder of Berta Cáceres, two of whom have ties with DESA, the Honduran company that was building the Agua Zarca dam, a project Berta Cáceres had strongly opposed and campaigned against. In the complaint, the company requests indemnification for damages and losses to the amount of one million lempiras (approximately €40,400) for allegedly inaccurate and false declarations. The human rights defender is due to attend a court hearing at 10 am on 21 March 2017…[Refers to the case to Gladys Lanza Ochoa and Fundación para el Desarrollo de la Vivienda Social, Urbana y Rural]

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