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8 Mar 2020

Greg Heilers, Triple Pundit

Colombia: Report provides analysis of the role of legitimate business in aggravating attacks on defenders

"As Human Rights Come Under Attack in Colombia, Corporations Look the Other Way"

...In a new report, the Business and Human Rights Resource Center (BHRRC) highlighted the role businesses play in aggravating attacks on activists across the nation of 50 million people. “Weak state institutions, armed gangs and illegal economies contribute to making Colombia a dangerous place for human rights defenders,” said Michel Forst, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights defenders. “But what is often missed by this analysis is the role of legitimate business in aggravating attacks on defenders and businesses’ potential to contribute meaningfully to the protection of defenders, including enabling an environment for human rights protection.” Around 90 percent of attacks that victimized human rights activists in Colombia were tied to only four industries: hydroelectric power, fossil fuels, mining and agriculture. Nearly half of the attacks on these citizens were against those who spoke up specifically against companies such as Ecopetrol, EPM, BG Salinas, Cerrejón Coal and AngloGold Ashanti. The report further highlighted the fact that the majority of HRDs who fell victim to violence were leaders and members of marginalized communities, union leaders, Afro-Colombian citizens and indigenous citizens... BHRRC made sure to clarify it is not accusing specific companies of sponsoring attacks on human rights activists, it did point out the inadequate measures taken by companies to prevent violence... The report highlights violations against the group Ríos Vivos Antioquia Movement, which opposes an embankment dam on the Cauca River under construction by the public utility EPM...