New Global Witness report finds govts., businesses & investors are fuelling violence against defenders, 200 of whom were killed in 2016

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Article
25 July 2017

"Public letter from Cerrejón to Global Witness on the 2016 Defenders of the Earth Report"

Author: Lina Echeverri, Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications, Cerrejón

We have read carefully the 2016 Defenders of the Earth report, published by Global Witness. The loss of any human life is cause for sorrow, and this is particularly the case where people are killed as they are trying to defend their land and their traditions. We recognize that this is a major issue that should be addressed by Governments, companies, communities and civil society organizations in order to prevent these horrendous violations from occurring. However, we have enormous concerns over the accusations included in the report towards our company, Cerrejón. As you state in the Global Witness website, you are committed to carrying out rigorous investigations, using multiple techniques to gather evidence. Although you make reference to the fact Cerrejón has publicly condemned the accusations against Ms Jakeline Romero, we were never contacted or requested to provide information regarding our impact management model, our human rights principles and processes or our specific actions whenever these cases have risen...We have never ignored the threats received by local leaders: on the contrary, we have regularly and insistently called on Government authorities to take the immediate actions required to guarantee their life and dignity and to bring to justice those responsible.

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Article
13 July 2017

"Defenders of the Earth: Global killings of land and environmental defenders in 2016"

Author: Global Witness (United Kingdom)

In 2016, at least 200 land and environmental  defenders were murdered – the deadliest year on record. Not only is this trend growing, it’s spreading – killings were dispersed across 24 countries, compared  to 16 in 2015. With many killings unreported, and even less investigated, it is likely that the true number is actually far higher... This tide of violence is driven by an intensifying fight for land and natural resources, as mining, logging, hydro-electric and agricultural companies trample on people and the environment in their pursuit of profit. As more and more extractive projects were imposed on communities, many of those who dared to speak out and defend their rights were brutally silenced...[G]lobally, governments and companies are failing in their duty to protect activists at risk...Investors, too, are fuelling the violence by backing projects that trash the environment and trample human rights... [They] are failing to tackle the main root cause  of the attacks: the imposition of projects on communities without their free, prior and informed consent...Criminalisation tends to be used as a tactic when governments and business collude to prioritise shortterm profit over sustainable development. Over the course of 2015 and 2016 the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre documented at least 134 criminalisation cases of this type.

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Article
13 July 2017

"Environmental defenders being killed in record numbers globally, new research reveals"

Author: Jonathan Watts & John Vidal, The Guardian (United Kingdom)

Last year was the most perilous ever for people defending their community’s land, natural resources or wildlife, with new research showing that environmental defenders are being killed at the rate of almost four a week across the world. Two hundred environmental activists, wildlife rangers and indigenous leaders trying to protect their land were killed in 2016, according to the watchdog group Global Witness – more than double the number killed five years ago.. John Knox, UN special rapporteur on human rights and the environment, said: “There is now an overwhelming incentive to wreck the environment for economic reasons... There is an epidemic now, a culture of impunity, a sense that anyone can kill environmental defenders without repercussions, eliminate anyone who stands in the way. It [comes from] mining, agribusiness, illegal logging and dam building." ...This is why the Guardian is today launching a project, in collaboration with Global Witness, to attempt to record the deaths of everyone who dies over the next year in defence of the environment. We will be reporting from the world’s last wildernesses, as well as from the most industrialised countries on the planet, on the work of environmental defenders and the assaults upon them.

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Item
13 July 2017

Colombia: New Global Witness video on the situation of Wayúu indigenous peoples fighting Cerrejón’s La Guajira coal mine; includes company comments

Author: Global Witness

“Profit or peace: Activist killings at all-time high in Colombia” - 13 July, 2017

Indigenous communities around Colombia’s largest coal mine, La Guajira, have been forced off their land and had their traditional way of life devastated. They have been beaten by security forces – and moved to land they cannot farm…Jakeline Romero, a Wayúu community activist, continues to resist in the face of death threats, fearing the extinction of her people. Support her community by signing the petition

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Article
12 July 2017

"Cerrejón's position on Global Witness's "Defend the Earth" report"

Author: Cerrejón (Colombia)

Regarding the recent Global Witness report... Cerrejón: Categorically rejects any threat to the lives and dignity of social and human rights leaders. In case we have known of such threats, the company has asked the competent Government authorities to implement all necessary actions required to protect them, as well as to prosecute the perpetrators of the threats; Rejects any suggestion, insinuation or accusation of links between Cerrejón and  the threats to social leaders or any violation of human rights, including those implied by this report and based on statements by Wayuu leader, Mrs. Jakeline Romero; Regarding environmental damage accusations...[Cerrejón] has an Environmental Management Plan that seeks to prevent, mitigate and compensate the possible impacts of its operation...;Regarding accusations on violation of the right to prior consultation, Cerrejón has been respectful of Colombian prior consultation regulations...The company has carried out transparent and participative processes of prior consultation..; Cerrejón has a strong commitment to respecting human rights, and is recognized for the implementation of the highest social and environmental standards; At all times, Cerrejón maintains its willingness and commitment to having an informed, constructive, and respectful dialogue about its operation with all interested parties.

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