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Joint letter calls on Dutch development bank to increase protections for human rights defenders

Author: BankTrack, Global Witness, ICAR & 29 others, Published on: 15 November 2016

The undersigned civil society organizations (CSOs) from around the world call on the Dutch development bank, FMO, to adopt measures in its Sustainability Policy to prevent and address reprisals against human rights defenders (HRDs) related to the activities it finances. The need for FMO to strengthen protection for HRDs was poignantly made clear by the murder of Berta Cáceres in March 2016, who for years protested the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project in Honduras, financed by FMO. The Dutch government has prioritized HRDs, recognizing that they are “key driving forces behind change and progress in their countries” and that the international system provides them insufficient protection. The Dutch government and FMO, as its national development bank, have an obligation under international law to respect and protect the rights of those affected by the activities they finance, including those who raise their voices in dissent. In addition, FMO has committed to uphold the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which requires that it and its clients respect internationally recognized human rights in their operations. The best way to protect HRDs is by ensuring that the projects FMO finances have no adverse human rights impacts in the first place. The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders called upon development finance institutions to “integrate a human rights-based approach in their policies [and] condition their funds on such an approach, in consultation with… human rights defenders.” However, in the event that impacts occur, FMO and its clients must be prepared to ensure the safety of HRDs who raise concerns...

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Related companies: FMO