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Report shows human rights defenders in extractive sectors are particularly vulnerable & makes recommendations to states & cos.

Report from Forum Syd shows that threats and violence against human rights defenders, focusing on extractive industries, have escalated in many parts of the world. The report examines the links between extractive industries and shrinking civic space. It discusses measures used to silence human rights defenders and the responsibility and role of states as well as companies. Cases from different countries around the world illustrate the hostile environment, risks and challenges faced by human rights and environmental defenders. Business & Human Rights Resource Centre's coverage of cases mentioned in the report, which include company responses, when relevant, are available below.

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Article
14 June 2019

So. Africa: Environmental activists battle defamation lawsuits by companies

Author: Sheree Bega, IOL (South Africa)

"Environmentalists winning battle in lawsuits", 8 Jun 2019

Nine years later, Duigan salutes six fellow environmental activists who have been sued by Australian mining firm Mineral Commodities Ltd (MRC) and its local subsidiary, Mineral Sands Resources, and Zamile Qunya, its BEE partner, to the tune of R9.25m...

The defamation suits, which have been described as SLAPP suits, are based on comments allegedly critical of MRC and its local subsidiaries - including statements made during a lecture at the UCT Summer School in 2017...

These centred on the firm’s Tormin mining operation at Lutzville on the West Coast, and its hugely controversial proposed titanium-mining operation at Xolobeni in Pondoland on the Wild Coast, which the Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC) has fought for over a decade. In 2016, local anti-mining activist Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Rhadebe was assassinated, but no arrests have been made...

SLAPPs, which experts say often take the form of defamation suits, have become a global trend, particularly in relation to environmental defenders.

Dr Esther Gumboh, a researcher at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), which together with the universities of Cape Town and Wits, have intervened in the MRC matter as amici curiae, says they are on the rise in SA too...

The MRC defamation case, she believes, is a “classic SLAPP case”, which is “directed at muzzling criticism” against it. “It presents another opportunity for our courts to expose this ugly tactic and once again defend activists in this country.”

While MRC did not respond to the Saturday Star, its executive chairman Mark Caruso, previously told the newspaper that the “CER and certain individuals have made defamatory and unsubstantiated remarks aimed directly at diminishing the company’s core values of ensuring responsible environmental impact and high social and economic value for the local communities.

“The company acknowledges the right to the freedom of speech and that it must subject itself to public scrutiny. The individuals and the organisations who have made these remarks have overstepped the boundaries of responsibility, truth and fairness. The company enjoys the same right to defend itself and owes a duty to its stakeholders and employees not to permit these remarks to simply go unanswered.”

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Article
8 September 2018

Report examines attacks on human rights defenders & makes recommendations to mining cos.

Author: Forum Syd

"Defending their rights, risking their lives", 14 Jun 2018

The democratic space for civil society is shrinking, and threats and violence towards human rights defenders who speak out is escalating.... Resource exploitation is intensifying together with a contraction of political liberties and lowering of tolerance for freedom of expression in many countries around the world. This is a very dangerous and explosive situation... [D]efenders in the extractive sector are particularly vulnerable... [In Angola], Rafael Marques wrote a book...about human rights abuses in Angola’s diamond-rich Lundas region...[He]...faced [24] defamation charges...which could have resulted in a nine-year prison sentence. One of [them]...from...ITM Mining... [In Thailand] in July 2017, seven women [HRDs] were charged... for protesting against the business activities of Tungkham gold mining company... In May 2018...two persons were charged... [for protesting] against exploration of potash... by... China Mingda Potash Corporation. The manager of the company [said]...they planned to file more complaints..., since they...forced a halt to the exploration work and caused damages to the company... [In South Africa], in 2017,... Mineral Sands Resources, a subsidiary of... Mineral Commodities Limited, sued two lawyers from the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER).... [In Malawi]...eight Tanzanian activists  [were charged] for...working as foreign agents. The group... was investigating a uranium mine...established by Paladin...

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Article
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Author: Pratch Rujivanarom, The Nation

…当地抗议者公开批判政府机构无视人员保护,并一味偏袒中国的矿产企业。

当地警方发布告示称此次抗议违反了《公共集会法》。…抗议者…发表的声明强调警方说辞是罔顾他们保护当地人民利益的职责,没有能够顺从当地居民要求停止矿产勘探的要求,也没能确保中国明达钾盐(泰国)有限公司在当地社区勘探时遵守所有的法律要求。

…抗议者表达了对于政府当局的失望,指责当局不但无视人民的要求,甚至公然推进中国采矿公司的业务。

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Author: Pratch Rujivanarom, The Nation

…當地抗議者公開批判政府機構無視人員保護,並一味偏袒中國的礦產企業。

當地警方發佈告示稱此次抗議違反了《公共集會法》。 …抗議者…發表的聲明強調警方說辭是罔顧他們保護當地人民利益的職責,沒有能夠順從當地居民要求停止礦產勘探的要求,也沒能確保中國明達鉀鹽(泰國)有限公司在當地社區勘探時遵守所有的法律要求。

…抗議者表達了對於政府當局的失望,指責當局不但無視人民的要求,甚至公然推進中國採礦公司的業務。

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Article
13 May 2018

Thailand: Locals accuse authorities for abandoning human rights by favouring Chinese mining co.; demand to halt mineral exploration

Author: Pratch Rujivanarom, The Nation

"Locals accuse authorities of negligence, pro-mining firm bias as deadline imposed for ending potash protest", 14 May 2018

...[L]ocal demonstrators publicly criticised the authorities for abandoning human-rights protection and working solely in favour of a Chinese mining company.

...[T]he police...displayed a notice that their protest was against the Public Gathering Act....

The protesters...released a statement highlighting what they said was negligence on the part of the authorities in regard to their duty to protect the people's interest, and their failure to comply with local people's demand to halt the exploration mission and ensure China Mingda Potash Corporation had followed all legal requirements for exploring for the mineral in their communities.

 ...[P]rotesters expressed their disappointment toward the authorities' actions, which they said not only ignored the people's demands, but also overtly facilitated the mission of the Chinese potash-mining company.

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Article
4 October 2016

Human Rights Watch calls for protection of communities around Lake Malawi from negative impacts of mining

Author: Human Rights Watch

"Malawi: Mining Puts Residents at Risk: Urgent Need to Protect Rights of Lake Malawi Communities"

Malawi’s government has failed to protect the rights and livelihoods of people living in nascent mining communities, Human Rights Watch said today in a report released on eve of the International Right to Know Day. Families living near coal and uranium mining operations face serious problems with water, food, and housing, and are left in the dark about health and other risks from mining.

The...report, “‘They Destroyed Everything’: Mining and Human Rights in Malawi,” examines the impact of extractive industries on communities in some of Malawi’s first mining areas, in Karonga district located on the northwestern shores of Lake Malawi. Malawi’s government has promoted private investment in mining and resource extraction to diversify its economy. But environmental risks are common in resource extraction and mining significantly contributes to climate change, which in turn affects governments’ ability to realize the rights to health, water, and food.

 

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Company non-response
1 August 2008

ITM Mining did not respond to: Report says mining companies' arbitrary seizure & destruction of farmlands causing widespread hunger & deepening poverty.