Colombia: Communities affected by Hidroituango dam file complaint at Inter-American Development Bank

Four opponents of the impacts of the Hidroituango dam of the Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM) were recently killed. Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited EPM and Atlas Copco to respond. Their answers are below. 

The population in the Hidroituango project’s area of influence have undergone 10 forced evictions over the last few years, which resulted in loss of their ways of life and economic subsistence activities of more than 500 families in the area.

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Article
4 June 2018

Colombia: Communities affected by Hidroituango dam file complaint at Inter-American Development Bank

Author: Movimiento Ríos Vivos, AIDA & Center for International Environmental Law

Communities affected by the construction of the Hidroituango dam in Antioquia, Colombia, filed a complaint with the Independent Consultation and Investigation Mechanism (MICI) of the Inter-American Development Bank... The complaint requests that this accountability office investigate whether the IDB, through both its public and private lending arms, violated its own social and environmental standards when it invested in the project... the affected communities, represented by Movimiento Ríos Vivos Antioquia, highlight that the bank did not follow its policies that investment projects must be sustainable, participatory, and respectful of national legislation in the case of HidroItuango. There was no adequate environmental impact assessment, communities did not have access to participation or information, and the project occurs in a context of human rights violations and disproportionate use of force. It has also endangered the lives of thousands of people, who have had to be evacuated ad hoc due to the dam crisis.

...The claim comes amid a humanitarian crisis in the dam construction area and a wave of increasing violence against people who are defending their territory and water and oppose the project... The members of Movimiento Ríos Vivos have suffered multiple threats, intimidations, and rights violations. Between May 2 and 8, as has been reported, two of its members were killed.  

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Company response
29 May 2018

Atlas Copco AB response about killings of Albeiro George Pérez & Domar Egidio Zapata, allegedly related to their resistance to Hidroituango

Information about the death of Hugo Albeiro George Pérez and Domar Egidio Zapata has been shared with Atlas Copco and we wish to express our concern and sadness. Atlas Copco monitors the development around the hydroelectric power plant construction and engages with various stakeholders to understand potential risks and to be able to mitigate possible adverse human rights impacts. We will follow what may come out of further investigations into this matter.

Article
29 May 2018

Colombia: EPM response regarding killings of opponents of Hidroituango

This is an unofficial translation by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre. Full document in Spanish available below.

EPM is aware that the construction of the Ituango hydroelectric project - PIH – is taking place in a territory with complex characteristics due to the historical weakness of the State, the settlement of illegal actors, extractive economies, the development of illegal activities, irregular possession of land and informality in multiple ways of relations between citizens...Taking into account this context and expressing our deep sympathy and concern for the murders committed against Mr. Hugo Albeiro George Perez, Dimar Egidio Zapata George, Luis Alberto Torres Montoya and Duvian Andres Correa, we proceed to put forward the facts about the project and the company with regard to the unfortunate events...Despite the aforementioned and the little clarity that there is with regard to the facts of the killings thus far by the competent authorities, the media and the public opinion have already linked affectations and dissatisfactions with the project to the events that have occurred, which is of great concern to the company and the project, even more so when these situations are presented in contexts of complexity and contingency, where the trust created with the communities is weakened in the context of insinuations like these... 

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Article
29 May 2018

Colombia: Int'l civil society demands EU & allies call for investigation into killings of opponents of Hidroituango & related abuses

Author: FIDH

"Colombia: The international community must call for the protection of the Living Rivers Movement in the Antioquia department (Movimiento Ríos Vivos Antioquia) and an investigation into murders of the Movement’s members", 22 May 2018

The International Office for Human Rights – Action Colombia (OIDHACO) and the signatory organisations...would like to express their serious concerns to the European Union institutions, EU member States, Switzerland and Norway about the situation faced by the population affected by the Hidroituango development project in Colombia and about the Living Rivers Movement in the Antioquia department (Movimiento Ríos Vivos Antioquia)...The population in the Hidroituango project’s area of influence has also undergone 10 forced evictions over the last few years..In response to the damages suffered by the population, the company...Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM) has offered compensation, however, this is insufficient...Added to this situation is the murder of Hugo Albeiro George Pérez on 2 May 2018, a member of the El Aro Association of Victims and People Affected by Megaprojects...[it] also claimed the life of Domar Egidio Zapata George.. [O]n 8 May 2018, Luis Alberto Torres Montoya was also killed. Mr Montoya was from the Association of Small Miners and Fishers (Asociación de Pequeños Mineros y Pesqueros - AMPA) in Puerto Valdivia, which is part of the MRVA. Duvian Andrés Correa Sanchez was also killed...

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Article
12 May 2018

Colombia: Opponent of Hidroituango hydroelectric project & his nephew killed

"Killing of a HRD is the latest attack on Movimiento ríos vivos Antioquia", 2 May 2018

On 2 May 2018,  human rights defender Hugo Albeiro George Pérez was shot and killed by an unknown individual, while he was participating in a peaceful protest to oppose the impact of Hidroituango Hydroelectric Project in Colombia’s Antioquia Department. The human rights defender’s nephew, Domar Egidio Zapata George, was also killed in the attack... Movimiento Ríos Vivos Antioquia (MRVA) is a human rights movement composed by 15 associations and families in the West, North and Lower-Caucasub-region in Antioquia, affected by the negative environmental and human rights impact of “Hidroituango”, one of the largest embankment dam in Latin America, currently under construction on the Cauca River. The hydroelectric project, carried out by Public Enterprises of Medellin (Empresa Públicas de Medellin – EPM), affects more that 26 thousand hectares of land in 19 municipalities in that region...