Colombia: Community calls on Swedish co's to address human rights risks related to construction of power plant Hidroituango; incl. co responses

Swedish companies Atlas Copco and Scania are suppliers to the construction of Colombia’s biggest hydroelectric power plant, Hidroituango. Since the project started, the local movement Rios Vivos has reported on severe human rights impacts linked to the construction of the plant, including the forced eviction and lack of compensation to artisanal miners, living and working on the shores of the Cauca river where the project is located. In recent years, the Ríos Vivos movement has experienced an increase in threats and attacks by paramilitary groups.

In March, Isabel Zuleta, the local leader of Ríos Vivos, visited Sweden to talk to companies, politicians and NGO’s, among others Scania and Atlas Copco, to inform them of the new risks. Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Scania and Atlas Copco to respond to the concerns raised. Their responses are available below; a response by the Colombian company EPM, responsible for the construction of the plant, is available here.

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Company response
9 April 2018

Response by Scania

Author: Scania

As communicated by Swedwatch we had a meeting with a representative from the organisation Rios Vivos during their visit to Sweden in March. We listened to their description of the current situation and have since then had a dialogue with our local representatives in Brazil and Colombia as well as other involved Swedish companies. Further on we have initiated a meeting with a Swedish charity that are well established in the region and a meeting with the Swedish ministry of foreign affairs. These steps have been taken to further inform us about the situation in the area and to understand if any additional steps from us should be considered.  

Company response
3 April 2018

Response by Atlas Copco

Author: Atlas Copco

Thank you for your e-mail. Atlas Copco continuously monitors the development and engages with various stakeholders to understand risks and opportunities to mitigate possible adverse human rights impacts. We refer to the information about Colombia on our website, see link. http://www.atlascopcogroup.com/en/sustainability/living-by-the-highest-ethical-standards/complex-markets/colombia

Article
19 March 2018

Human rights defender warns of risks related to Colombian Hydropower plant

Author: Swedwatch

Swedish companies Atlas Copco and Scania are suppliers to the construction of Colombia’s biggest hydroelectric power plant, Hidroituango. Since the project started, the local movement Rios Vivos has reported on severe human rights impacts linked to the construction of the plant.

In early March, Isabel Zuleta, local leader of Ríos Vivos, visited Sweden to inform companies, politicians and NGO’s of new risks... 

[T]he Ríos Vivos movement has experienced an increase in threats by paramilitary groups...

Isabel Zuleta met with Swedish parlamentarians, asking them to sign a letter to the Colombian government demanding protection for the members of Ríos Vivos...

[S]he [also] said [...] “The companies need to understand the risks that they are facing when they participate in these projects. In many parts of Colombia, the armed conflict is still a reality. The guerilla is gone but there are more paramilitaries and in many ways the conflict continues.” ...

Since 2015, Scania and Atlas Copco [...] are committed to working actively on human rights issues, environmental issues and anticorruption in the country, in a joint initiative with the Swedish Embassy...

Scania and Atlas Copco declined to comment on the issues brought up in this article...

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