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NGOs call for German law reform to address intl. corporate human rights abuses

MISEREOR, Brot für die Welt (Bread for the World) and the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) have released a report analysing several instances of alleged corporate human rights violations to explore legal strategies and make recommendations for German law reform. 

Where specific allegations were made that are not subject to legal action, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited the company to respond.

  • E.ON have responded to allegations that they buy coal from Colombian suppliers allegedly linked to human rights abuses. 
  • EnBW have responded to allegations that they buy coal from Colombian suppliers allegedly linked to human rights abuses.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre has already sought company responses for some of the situations outlined in the report. These are:

  • Addax Bioenergy - Previously issued an open letter in response to an ActionAid report on corporate land grabs in Sierra Leone
  • Drummond - Previously responded to allegations that they export coal linked to "death squads" in Colombia.  Lawsuit profile of Drummond available here
  • Cerrejón - Previously responded to allegations that indigenous peoples are being evicted as a result of their coal operations (most recent response, other responses)
  • Gas Natural Fenosa - Previously responded on assassinations of protest leaders in Guatemala (Spanish)

Please find a German language version of this story here.

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Company response
27 January 2015

E.ON response

Author: E.ON

Our hard coal comes from all over the world, not only from [Colombia]. Because E.ON is aware of social and environmental risks, we’re partnering with our industry peers and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to improve coal-mining sustainability. We joined seven other leading European power producers to launch Bettercoal...

Download the full document here

Company response
27 January 2015

EnBW response

Author: EnBW

[W]e would like to take the opportunity and reiterate that EnBW respects human rights, and that we welcome activities that provide further guidance on how to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. EnBW therefore fully supports the process of developing a German National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights in Germany which is spearheaded by the German Federal Foreign Office...EnBW has extended its sustainability activities with regard to coal sourcing over time, with a particular focus on Colombia. EnBW takes complaints from non-government organizations (NGOs), politicians, affected parties and other stakeholder groups about adherence to environmental and social standards in mining hard coal extremely seriously and maintains active dialogue with all stakeholders in order to work with them on solutions...

Download the full document here

2 December 2014

Holding Companies Accountable: Lessons from transnational human rights litigation

Author: MISREOR, Brot für die Welt, ECCHR

MISEREOR, Brot für die Welt (Bread for the World) and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) have... organised four workshops on three continents... designed to encourage the formation of international alliances and exchange of strategies for legal action... against European companies...

ECCHR comprehensively analyzed close to 50 individual cases of human rights violations committed by companies from all over the world....Using this analysis as a starting point we set out suggestions for German law reform that should be adopted so that those affected by human rights violations can sue companies in Germany...

🚫Read the full post here

Company response
8 October 2014

[PDF] Cerrejón response

Author: Cerrejón coal

Cerrejón welcomes all citizen participation exercises and acknowledges the benefits that public and objective impact assessment bring to responsible mining. As it’s widely known, Cerrejón’s performance has been evaluated by multiple auditors, analysts, experts and several initiatives from different stakeholders. In every case, our operation has been recognized as a leader in the implementation of the highest international standards as well as a responsible company towards community, employees, contractors and the environment.

Cerrejon response - Agua Luna site Oct 3 2014

Cerrejon observations on Indepaz' Press Release

Cerrejon response to NGOs

Download the full document here

Company response
15 July 2014

Addax Bioenergy responded

Addax Bioenergy referred us to a letter to ActionAid available here.

Read the full post here

Company response
6 July 2014

[PDF] Drummond response

Author: Drummond Ltd.

[PDF] Drummond response (see Annex 1 of PAX report)- 01 June 2014

I am writing on behalf of Drummond Ltd. In regard to your report:  “Facts and Figures on Coal Mining in Cesar.” As detailed more fully below, Drummond disputes the “facts” of your report and hereby puts you on notice that the publication of this report will result in Drummond seeking any and all legal action available to it.

Drummond Ltd., beginning with the grant of the La Loma coal concession in 1989 undertook construction of a world class mine, railway and port. This was during a period of great turmoil in Colombia. From inception to the present Drummond refuses to become part of any conflict and has never supported illegal groups.

Drummond has been successfully defending allegations of the nature cited in your report for over ten years.  In 2007 a Jury determined that Drummond was not responsible for the deaths of the three union leaders who were killed in 2001. More recently, a District Court in Alabama dismissed two more cases based on allegations of Drummond providing support to paramilitaries. Drummond has prevailed in every case that has been decided by a judge or jury…

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Company response
3 March 2010

Response by Unión Fenosa (now Gas Natural): NGOs condemn the assassination of “fourth” leader of protests against Union Fenosa-Gas Natural activities

Read the full post here