Killings and threats against defenders working for corporate accountability on the rise in 2017

Author: Umberto Bachi, Reuters (UK), Published on: 7 February 2018

"Killings and threats against land rights defenders soar in 2017: rights group", 06 Feb 2018

More than 120 activists campaigning to protect their land, environment and labor rights from business interests were killed last year... The London-based Business & Human Rights Resource Centre... said it documented 388 attacks on campaigners in 2017, including beatings, threats, lawsuits and arbitrary detentions, up 34 percent from the previous year. The rise was partially due increased global attention, which led to more incidents being reported and documented, and came as rights group were coming under growing pressure worldwide, said BHRRC’s spokeswoman Ana Zbona. Charities in dozens of countries, from Angola to India and Tajikistan, have faced restrictions targeting their funding and operations over the past two years... “We are seeing attacks on activists and civic freedoms in general increasing around the world,” Zbona told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala and the Philippines were the most dangerous countries for activists confronting corporate interests, accounting for 212 of all incidents, BHRRC said. Victims...were activists, trade union representatives, indigenous leaders, journalists and lawyers - mostly involved in land rights campaigns opposing mines, plantations and power plants. Mining and agriculture remained the most affected sectors but attacks related to renewable energy projects, like dams and wind farms, were rising fast, fueled by growing investments in clean energy, the group said.... [B]ig companies were sometimes unaware of conflicts in their supply chain - which carried potential risks such as high legal costs and damage to reputation – and could only gain by engaging with rights defenders on the ground. “Responsible companies should see defenders and civil society as partners in identifying risks and problems in their supply chains,” she said.

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