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12 Dec 2023

Leadership Initiative for Transformation and Empowerment (LITE-Africa)

Report finds HRDs in Africa experience significant rights abuses by state & non-state actors related to extractive & agribusiness projects

...[H]uman rights defenders’ rights to be protected is seriously abused by extractives and agribusiness in a complex web of business relations with states and other non-state actors. Defenders hardly enjoy their right to peaceful assembly as they increasingly suffer arrest, detention, ex-judicial killings and administrative harassment. Excessive use of force by security providers against defenders is commonplace in the African region... Leaders of workers union across the regions suffer summary dismissals, harassment, and attacks for participating in peaceful industrial actions.

... Human rights defenders interviewed are not aware of any specific company commitment to human rights defenders by extractive and agribusiness company by way of policy or statement on human rights defenders to operationalised human rights commitment but a few defenders are aware of company policies including human rights, and gender polices as well as Code of conduct for security personnel.

... Recommendations [include]:

  • VPI pillar members should demonstrate commitment to protection of human rights defenders through specific policies or statements on human rights defenders to operationalize their human rights commitments...
  • Extractives and agribusiness should train security on risks related to human rights defenders and provide necessary lawful equipment to prevent excessive use of force and violence against defenders by security personnel. Company should refrain from activities that potentially heighten risk to defenders including deployment of military as first line of intervention to perform police functions...
  • Companies should establish formal processes for HRDs to access company grievance mechanisms and create awareness around it to potentially address grievances that often result in most defenders going to court with companies...