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Colombia: NGOs submit report on patters of business conduct during the conflict to the Truth Commission

The Colombian NGO Corporación Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo (CCAJAR) submitted a report on patterns of business conduct during the internal armed conflict to provide the Commission for the Clarification of Truth, Coexistence and Non-Repetition (CEV, for its Spanish acronym) with a perspective from civil society and the human rights movement. The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre invited 19 of the companies mentioned in the report, four of them belonging to two business groups. The responses from: Frontera Energy (formerly Pacific Rubiales), Drummond, Cerrejon Coal (joint venture Anglo American, BHP and Glencore) and Glencore (Prodeco Group in Colombia) are available.

Responses by AngloGold Ashanti, Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM), Equion (formerly BP, now part of Ecopetrol and Repsol), Grupo Argos, Bavaria (part of AB InBev, part of Anheuser-Busch InBev), Poligrow, Postobón (part of Grupo Ardila Lulle), Repsol and Riopaila-Castilla (part of Grupo Ardila Lulle) are available only in Spanish.

Ecopetrol, Galletas Noel and Compañía Nacional de Chocolates (part of the Nutresa Group), Ocensa (part of Ecopetrol), Oxy (Occidental Petroleum) and Total have not yet responded. We will report if they respond.

Further coverage can be found in Spanish here.

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Company response
8 June 2020

Response by Cerrejón coal

Author: Cerrejon Coal

Bogotá, 8 June 2020

CERREJÓN'S COMMENTS ON THE REPORT FROM JOSÉ ALVEAR RESTREPO LAWYERS' COLLECTIVE

TO THE TRUTH COMMISSION

Cerrejón wishes to thank the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) for the invitation to respond, and to publish our statements, regarding accusations made against Cerrejón by the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers' Collective (CAJAR) in its report “The Role of Companies in Armed Conflict and Socio-political Violence" presented before the Commission for the Clarification of Truth, Coexistence and Non-repetition.

As we have stated on many occasions, Cerrejón recognises and respects the work of civil society organizations seeking to denounce human rights violations and promote the foundations for a stable and lasting peace, based on serious, truthful and balanced information. We also understand and support the role played by the Truth Commission in clarifying the facts presented in Colombia within the context of the conflict, as well as its contribution to laying the foundations for non-repetition and peace-building in our country.

Nevertheless, in light of the report from the José Alvear Restrepo Collective, Cerrejón would like to express the business perspective on several points that are addressed and which, broadly, question business management in the context of the armed conflict in Colombia…

Download the full document here

Article
8 June 2020

Response by Drummond

Author: Drummond

Subject: Drummond's perspective on a report presented by the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers' Collective (CAJAR) to the Commission for the Clarification of Truth, Coexistence and Non-repetition (the Commission)...

We received an invitation to present Drummond's points of view on the report that CAJAR presented to the Commission, entitled “Report to the Commission for the Clarification of Truth, Coexistence and Non-Repetition: 'The Role of Companies in the armed conflict and Sociopolitical Violence '”. As we work on a more detailed document, our preliminary insights are as follows:

  1. We value the work of the CIEDH. At Drummond, we believe that the CIEDH's work in simultaneously publishing and responding to accusations against companies is valuable in enabling its readers to form a more informed opinion.
  2. Discrepancies. In general, we disagree with the opinions of CAJAR.
  3. Opinions vs. facts. CAJAR's writing does not express proven facts, but opinions we do not share, but to which they have a right.
  4. Duty to report. The duty to report as per Colombian law does not make exclusions: if the CAJAR has evidence, or at least the conviction that the law was violated, it should file it officially with the Judiciary...

Download the full document here

Company response
8 June 2020

Response by Frontera Energy

Author: Frontera Energy

June 8, 2020

Frontera Energy Corp is pleased to receive the invitation from the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre to respond to some concerns raised about Frontera’s Energy operations in the report: “El rol de las empresas en el conflicto armado y la violencia sociopolítica” Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo: https://www.colectivodeabogados.org/IMG/pdf/resumen_ejecutivo_informe_a_la_cev.pdf

Regarding these concerns, Frontera would like to share with the Business and Human Rights Centre the following statements:

1. As a Canadian company operating in Colombia, we are committed to comply with national and international legislation, ensuring a responsible business conduct that places the name of our home country in high regard. We act as a responsible corporate citizen, including protecting and promoting the human rights of land defenders. Frontera Energy is a member of the Global Compact, the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights and the Mining and Energy Committee on Security and Human Rights, among others. Our practices are in line with the implementation of the Sustainability Policy and Human Rights Declaration based on the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. We recognize social protest as a legitimate means of expression, and that local communities, its leaders and authorities are indispensable for democracy and for the construction of a long-lasting and stable peace.

Download the full document here

Company response
5 June 2020

Response by Glencore

Author: Glencore & Prodeco

5 June 2020

Glencore and Prodeco wholeheartedly condemn all threats, violence and human rights abuses in Colombia. We are committed to contributing to peace, and to respecting fundamental human rights and freedoms wherever we operate and take additional measures in regions that we have assessed to be high risk. We support and implement international standards at all of our operations, including the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as well as the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights. 

Prodeco is actively supporting and participating in Colombia’s transition to a peaceful and sustainable post-conflict era

Download the full document here

Article
14 May 2020

"The role of companies in armed conflict and socio-political violence"

Author: Colectivo de Abogados José A. Restrepo

14 May 2020

[Unofficial translation of excerpt by the BHHRC. See the original article in Spanish here]

...The report seeks to provide the Commission for the Clarification of the Truth, Coexistence and Non-Repetition (CEV) with a perspective from civil society and the human rights movement on the behaviour of private companies in Colombia in the context of the armed conflict. It mentions close to 50 cases of human rights violations committed against individuals, organizations and communities opposed to business projects that affect territory, the environment and labour rights. The information presented shows that the economic transformations that the country has undergone in recent decades have altered the dynamics of the armed conflict, resulting in the growing involvement of powerful business sectors in human rights violations, and in a wide impact on the civilian population of the regions in which their operations took place. Thus, it seeks to contribute new elements to the understanding of the complexity of the conflict in Colombia and the socio-political violence, and of the barriers that have historically been forged to fully guarantee individual and collective rights. The report was constructed on the basis of judicial documents and secondary literature that relate, from the perspective of the victims, the ways in which they were affected by the involvement of various companies in the extractive, mining, energy, food, industrial and livestock sectors in the armed conflict. In that order, it demonstrates the impacts of such practices on communities, territories and society as a whole, as well as their link to various factors that contributed to the persistence of the conflict, the deepening of forced displacement and the weakening of democracy...