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19 Apr 2017

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Corporate Legal Accountability Annual Briefing - Corporate impunity is common & remedy for victims is rare

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This year’s Annual Briefing highlights the rising impunity of companies’ involvement in human rights abuse...Unscrupulous companies are increasingly targeting activists, using the justice system to hold them accountable, with repression and lawsuits.  Individual companies and governments may win these cases but the costs are high to wider society, including to a business environment built on respect for open societies, civic space, human rights and the rule of law.

It is a vicious circle; growing impunity sees unscrupulous companies emboldened to pursue profit at any cost, even targeting their critics, and attacks on advocates and lawyers chill efforts to hold companies accountable, driving impunity.  Fortunately, a few governments and companies have taken steps and some courts have issued decisions that can break this cycle, and deserve to be learned from and built on.  Leading global experts, including at the United Nations, have identified additional practical measures that would increase victims’ access to remedy and counter impunity.

This Annual Briefing has two key sections:

  1. The impunity of unscrupulous companies regarding human rights abuses is increasing
  2. Opportunities to tackle impunity are emerging

We conclude with recommendations for governments, which have a critical role in protecting human rights defenders and advocates, and for companies and their lawyers.