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Russia: Olympic sponsors muted on Sochi abuses

Leading corporate sponsors of the Olympics have yet to speak out strongly against the rights abuses linked to the preparations for the Sochi Winter Games, to be hosted by Russia in February 2014...Minky Worden... Human Rights Watch [said] “Sponsors should speak up about labor abuse, discrimination, and attacks on press freedom.”...The main corporate sponsors of the Sochi Games – participants in the Olympic Partner Programme known as TOP Sponsors– are 10 major international companies: Atos, Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical, General Electric, McDonald’s, Omega, Panasonic, Procter & Gamble, Samsung, and Visa. The Games will be broadcast in the United States by NBC. Human Rights Watch wrote three detailed letters to each of these companies earlier in 2013 to call their attention to serious human rights abuses underway in Sochi. These abuses include: [e]xploitation of workers, including migrant workers...illegal detentions and deportations...[e]victions of homeowners and their families without fair compensation or in some cases without any compensation...[h]arassment of civil society activists and journalists speaking out about concerns related to Olympic preparations...[n]egative impacts on the environment that are affecting the right to health...Eight of the ten TOP Sponsors – Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical, General Electric, McDonald’s, Omega,Panasonic, Procter & Gamble, and Samsung– provided written responses, as did NBCUniversal. Four of these companies – Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical, General Electric and NBCUniversal – agreed to meet with Human Rights Watch. Atos and Visa have not responded to date.

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