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17 Nov 2021

Front Line Defenders

Front Line Defenders raises concerns about targeted surveillance against environmental rights defenders in Chile

"Environmental rights defenders under surveillance by order of electric energy company AES Corporation," 17 November 2021

Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned to hear reports that human rights defenders who are protesting the Alto Maipo hydroelectric project in Chile, which has the financial backing of several multilateral development banks, have been branded ‘eco-terrorists’ and are subject to significant surveillance for opposing the project. An investigation carried out by the media outlet Interferencia revealed that electricity company AES Andes S.A. hired a consultancy firm to surveil and to infiltrate private WhatsApp and Facebook chats of environmental groups who are critical of the Alto Maipo hydroelectric project. Interferencia had access to intelligence reports produced by a consultant between February and June 2020, which contained information on organisations and social movements opposing the project including the Coordinadora No Alto Maipo and the Red Metropolitana No Alto Maipo. It also had information on other environmental movements working for the right to water in the country, such as the Movimiento por el Agua y los Territorios (MAT)...

... Front Line Defenders expresses great concern about the objectives of this intelligence report and the company’s efforts to criminalise and delegitimise environmental defenders and social movements that have been struggling for years to guarantee the human rights of communities affected by extractive projects in Chile, and to denounce the irreversible social and environmental impacts that the Alto Maipo project has caused. It is also alarming that the methods used to prepare the report try to legitimize the practice of surveillance, monitoring and infiltration of social movements by private companies...