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22 Jun 2017

Sudeep Chakravarti, Livemint (India)

When corporate impunity trumps human rights

Corporate impunity is an unpopular subject in India. And that is precisely why I like to bring it up from time to time, using examples from here and elsewhere to trigger some degree of introspection over this most vexing of issues.

The most recent trigger was provided by that excellent aggregator and researcher, UK-based Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC), with its 2017 tracker report on the subject. It is simply titled, Corporate impunity is common and remedy for victims is rare...

BHRRC has globally tracked 450 instances of attacks and active harassment in the past two years against human rights defenders, who specifically demanded corporate responsibility and accountability. Though countries of Central and South America occupy the largest bandwidth—with local and transnational businesses complicit with governments—India has a large footprint in Asia, along with China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand.

Instances include what the Centre terms “judicial harassment”—the most frequent occurrence, designed to grind down opposition—and “killings, beatings and threats for demanding justice”...