GENEVA (SWITZERLAND) March 11th 2016 – Activists from Friends of the Earth International, along with human rights and environmental defenders and other international organizations which are part of the Global campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power are in Geneva from March 8th to 15th, during the 31st Session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). They demand UN member states to support the process towards a binding treaty on transnational corporations and other businesses with respect to Human Rights.


Friends of the Earth International welcomes the report on the first session of the open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group (IGWG) on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to Human Rights, with the mandate of elaborating an international legally-binding instrument held in July 2015, that will be presented by its Chair, Ambassador Maria Fernanda Espinoza from Ecuador, in Geneva on March 11th during the 31st session of the UNHRC. [1].

“Although not all companies necessarily violate human rights, there is indeed a systemic pattern of systematic abuses by transnational corporations.  Even where governments fail in their duty to protect human rights – as Honduras has blatantly done in the case of Berta Caceres’s assassination and Gustavo Castro Soto’s unjustified lengthy retention – corporations and their directors must be obliged under international law to respect human rights, and international enforcement mechanisms need to be established to that effect”, said Alberto Villarreal, Uruguayan trade and investment campaigner at Friends of the Earth Latin America and Caribbean (ATALC).[2]

”We call on the Dutch Presidency, the Member States and the European Commission to support the UN Process for a binding treaty on transnational corporations and other businesses and human rights. This Treaty should ensure that crimes like Berta’s murder do not go unpunished, victims will have access to justice, and corporations, including financiers, will be brought to justice. Anne van Schaik, Accountable Finance Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Europe. She added: ‘We call on the Dutch development bank FMO and Finnfunnd to withdraw from the Agua Zarca project. EU member states should ensure there are binding rules for European financiers which will stop these kind of financial services.’

Friends of the Earth International demands UNHRC member States to engage on the IGWG work to ensure a legally binding regime to bring transnational corporations and other businesses and their financiers to justice for human rights violations, as well as remedies and justice for affected people, and support outcomes of the IGWG report on this regard.

“We demand the corporations and financiers of the Agua Zarca project, such as Dutch development bank FMO and Finnfunnd and their home states for an immediate withdraw of the project and on governments of the Netherlands, Finland and Germany and all other member states at UNHRC to take all measures to ensure an independent, impartial and effective investigation of the case, the immediate lifting of migration restrictions for Gustavo and his safe departure from Honduras”, concluded Lucia Ortiz, Economic Justice International Program Coordinator, Friends of the Earth International .

END

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:

Alberto Villarreal, Friends of the Earth Latin America&Caribbean (ATALC)  trade and investment campaigner: Tel: +41 79 42 94 275 (in Geneva from March 8th to 12th) or +598 98 556360 (in Uruguay) or comerc@redes.org.uy

Anne van Schaik, Accountable Finance Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Europe:  +31-6-24 34 39 68 or anne.vanschaik@foeeurope.org  (in Geneva from March 14th to 15th)

Lucia Ortiz, Economic Justice International Program Coordinator, Friends of the Earth International : +31-6-51 00 56 30 (valid only 23 to 27 June) or + 55 48 99 15 00 71 (in Brazil) or lucia@natbrasil.org.br

NOTES TO EDITORS

(1) See: Report on the first session of the open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, with the mandate of elaborating an international legally binding instrument, at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session31/Pages/ListReports.aspx

(2) Berta Cáceres, indigenous leader of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), winner of the prestigious Goldman prize for environmental defenders, was murdered on the night of March 2nd, while she was resting in her home in La Esperanza, Intibucá. She dedicated her life as social activist in defense of peasants and indigenous peoples’ rights and of the Lenca sacred territory against the Agua Zarca Hydropower Project, run by the national company Desarrollo Energético Sociedad Anónima (DESA), with involvement of Voith-Siemens and financial support by Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO), Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation (Finnfund), and Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI).

The international community calls for a transparent investigation of the murder of Honduran indigenous leader Berta Cáceres shot last Thursday, and the protection of her fellow activists.

We specifically call for the protection of the only witness – Gustavo Castro Soto, director of Otros Mundos Mexico (Friends of the Earth Mexico). Furthermore, Soto should be allowed to return safely and quickly to Mexico.

See: https://www.foei.org/features/high-profile-honduran-activist-berta-caceres-murdered
https://www.foei.org/features/concerns-safety-witness-berta-caceress-murder and

http://www.otrosmundoschiapas.org/index.php/component/content/article/36-otros-temas/36-derechos/2261-urgent-we-reject-order-that-gustavo-castro-stay-30-days-longer-in-honduras

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/08/berta-caceres-honduras-blocks-sole-witness-from-leaving-country

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