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DR Congo: Development banks linked to palm oil abuses failed oversight enables labor, environmental harm

Four European development banks are financing a palm oil company in the Democratic Republic of Congo that is violating workers’ rights and dumping untreated waste, Human Rights Watch said in a report...[The report]...documents that investment banks owned by Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom are failing to protect the rights of people working and living on three plantations they finance. Human Rights Watch found that Feronia and its subsidiary in Congo, Plantations et Huileries du Congo (PHC), exposes workers to dangerous pesticides, dumps untreated industrial waste into local waterways, and engages in abusive employment practices that result in extreme poverty wages...

“These banks can play an important role promoting development, but they are sabotaging their mission by failing to ensure that the company they finance respects the rights of its workers and communities on the plantations,” said Luciana Téllez, environment and human rights researcher at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “The banks should insist that Feronia remedies the abuses and commits to a concrete plan to end them.”..

Workers on the three plantations are exposed to large amounts of hazardous pesticides due to the company’s failure to provide adequate protective equipment, Human Rights Watch found...Many described skin irritation, pustules, blisters, eye problems or blurred vision – symptoms consistent with what scientific literature and the pesticide’ labels describe as health consequences of exposure. Some pesticides used on the plantations can also have long term effects, like cancer, from repeated exposure... 

 

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