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Front Line Defenders 2020 report highlights role of business in attacks on human rights defenders and need for mandatory human rights due diligence

The defenders working on land, indigenous peoples’ and environmental rights being killed while opposing business related human rights abuses once again highlights the urgent need for legislation on mandatory human rights due diligence for business enterprises to be implemented. Such legislation would, in theory, ensure that companies are addressing issues at the earliest stages which, if left unaddressed, have the potential to result in harm to communities and HRDs for exposing and protesting those human rights abuses... The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights make it clear that companies have a responsibility to respect human rights and yet the many cases of reprisals against defenders linked to business enterprises and their activities highlight that binding obligations on business to undertake human rights due diligence are crucial, particularly for companies operating or sourcing produce and materials from regions where HRDs are at high risk... A number of defenders in Asia were harassed and intimidated because of their opposition to corporate land grabs. The financial resources at some companies’ disposal were also used to try to silence HRDs who raised allegations of violations through Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs)... A briefing published by the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre in March found that Southeast Asia “has become a global hotspot for SLAPPs and other judicial harassment against HRDs.”...