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Barriers Worsen for Victims Seeking Justice - New Briefing Highlights Human Rights Lawsuits Against Companies Over Alleged Abuses in Over 25 Countries

Submitted by: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Categories: Human Rights, Corporate Social Responsibility

Posted: Nov 26, 2013 – 05:23 PM EST


LONDON, Nov. 26 /CSRwire/ - Today the non-profit Business & Human Rights Resource Center is launching its second annual brifing on Corporate Legal Accountability.

Download the full briefing here

Download the 2-page executive summary here; also available in Spanish & French

The Annual Briefing provides an overview of corporate legal accountability for human rights, summarising trends and developments in this field since our first Annual Briefing in June 2012. This briefing draws attention to the latest developments in lawsuits against companies for alleged human rights abuses around the world and looks ahead to emerging issues. It will help advocates learn about cases that shape their strategies, and companies and corporate lawyers better understand legal risks in connection with human rights abuses. It highlights issues and trends including:

  • continuing concerns over steep and worsening barriers that prevent most victims of abuses involving companies from accessing justice;
  • less availability of courts in countries where companies are headquartered, for claims by victims of abuses in other countries where the companies operate (extraterritoriality); and
  • threats to lawyers bringing human rights cases against companies.

The briefing also reviews the developing expectations of how lawyers should integrate the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights into their advice to companies.

The lawsuits highlighted in the briefing include:

  • lawsuit in South Africa by over 17,000 ex-gold miners suffering from silicosis, against 30 gold mining companies, alleging the companies did not adequately protect the workers from silica dust;
  • lawsuits in Canadian court against HudBay Minerals alleging the company was complicit in rapes, beatings and killing of Mayan villagers living near its mining project in Guatemala; and
  • lawsuit in UK court against Tate & Lyle and T&L Sugars (subsidiary of American Sugar Refining) by Cambodian villagers, alleging that Tate & Lyle purchased sugar from companies (Koh Kong Plantation, Koh Kong Sugar Industry) using land from which villagers were violently, illegally evicted.

Greg Regaignon, Research Director of Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, said:

“We are pleased that, through this briefing, we are able to help with the critical sharing of information about corporate legal accountability for human rights abuse. When victims of such abuse cannot access effective legal remedies, the abusers are permitted to operate with impunity.”

Sif Thorgeirsson, manager of the Resource Centre’s Corporate Legal Accountability Project, said:

“With our second Annual Briefing, we evaluate developments in corporate legal accountability over the last year, and assess how the landscape has changed. This briefing is an opportunity to remind our audience – human rights advocates, governments, businesspeople, and the wider legal community – about the continuing need to break down the persistent barriers to accessing effective legal remedy for business-related human rights abuse.”

More in-depth information on the subject is available on Business & Human Rights Resource Centre’s Corporate Legal Accountability Portal – an online hub providing accessible, up-to-date case profiles on over 90 lawsuits in all parts of the world. The portal also contains commentaries by experts offering insights from a wide range of perspectives. It is a resource for lawyers and non-lawyers – for victims, advocates, NGOs, business people and others.

About Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
tracks the human rights impacts (positive & negative) of 5000 companies in over 180 countries. It is updated hourly and provides guidance tools to assist all those working in this field. Mary Robinson chairs its 70-member International Advisory Network. Its 23 Academic Partners include leading institutes in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America.

The Centre’s researchers are based in Brazil, Colombia, Hong Kong, India, Kenya, Lebanon, Myanmar, Senegal, South Africa, UK, Ukraine and USA.

In addition to the Corporate Legal Accountability Portal, the Resource Centre’s site features portals on:

For further details, see the “About us” section of our website.

SUPPORT THE RESOURCE CENTRE: Please consider donating to Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, to enable us to continue our work on corporate legal accountability, and to offer our website, special portals, Weekly Updates and briefings to a global audience without any charge. As we do not accept donations from companies or company foundations, in order to prevent any possible conflict of interest, donations from individuals and foundations are essential for our work to continue.

Donate online:

For more information, please contact:

Sif Thorgeirsson Manager, Corporate Legal Accountability Project
Phone: +1 202 - 957 - 6024
Elodie Aba Legal Researcher
Phone: +44 207 636 - 7774
Greg Regaignon Research Director
Phone: +1 909 - 398 - 1538
Twitter: @GRegaignon


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