Global Witness report shows three defenders were killed each week in 2018, most in relation to mining, agribusiness & hydro

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Article
10 August 2019

Why attacks on environment defenders should scare big business

Author: Ping Manongdo

31 July 2019

...Denouncing the killings, Global Witness’ senior communications advisor Heather Iqbal said addressing the root causes of attacks on defenders, including corruption in business and politics, is the only effective way of tackling the problem.

Acknowledging the contribution defenders make to protecting and promoting universally recognised human rights and ensuring sustainable development, industry body Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) last year rolled out a policy that provides defenders with the opportunity to lodge complaints against RSPO members whose business operations put defenders' safety and security at risk.

The RSPO warned that members found threatening or causing harms to defenders would face suspension or termination from the body.

Former Unilever chief executive Paul Polman who currently chairs B Team, a leading non-profit initiative formed by a group of global businesses, has highlighted the economic benefits of business, government and civil society collaborating to uphold and protect the rights of defenders.

“Given the increasing vulnerability of human rights defenders and shrinking space where they can operate safely, business has a role and a responsibility to defend and promote fundamental rights and freedoms,” he said in a research paper titled, The Business Case for Protecting Civic Rights, published last year.

..."Banks, too, that pump money into industries, must take responsibility and do proper due diligence on their investments to guard against environmental, social and governance risks," Iqbal said.

"We're keen to see governments introduce regulations that oblige companies to demonstrate that the products they buy or trade come from land that has been legally and ethically acquired," she said.

"Timber laws in the US and the EU already require companies to take steps to ensure they aren't driving deforestation through importing illegal timber. There's currently no such regime for land grabbing."

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Lawsuit
29 July 2019

Enemies of the State?

Author: Global Witness

30 Jul 2019

As demand for products like timber, palm oil and minerals continues to grow, governments, companies and criminal gangs are routinely stealing land and trashing habitats in pursuit of profit. When the ordinary people who live on these lands take a stand, they come up against companies’ private security, state forces, contract killers, or in less violent confrontations, teams of aggressive lawyers... In 2018, Global Witness documented 164 killings of land and environmental defenders – ordinary people murdered for defending their homes, forests and rivers against destructive industries. Countless more were silenced through violent attacks, arrests, death threats or lawsuits... Mining was the deadliest sector, with 43 defenders killed protesting against the destructive effects of mineral extraction on people’s land, livelihoods and the environment... There was an escalation of killings of defenders struggling for the protection of water sources...The Philippines suffered the largest number of deaths in 2018, with 30 killed. 15 of these killings were linked to agribusiness...  Under the current regime of President Rodrigo Duterte, the situation certainly isn’t improving. In 2017, his administration announced plans to allocate 1.6 million hectares of land to industrial plantations, most of it on the island of Mindanao. This region has also become a hotspot for murders... As in many parts of the world, indigenous people in the Philippines are disproportionately affected... [Refers to Dole Philippines, Energía y Renovación S.A , Itochu, JPMorgan Chase, Sterlite Industries, Transcanada]. 

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