BHRRC takes companies to task on human rights
15 January 2017
The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (based in London and New York) puts Peru among the countries in which human rights defenders (HRDs) are most at risk. It issued its Latin America Briefing earlier this month. Publication was timed to provide an input for the Second Regional Consultation on Firms and Human Rights in Santiago on 17-19 January. The meeting is organised by the Regional Office for Latin America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
BHRRC’s methodology for monitoring corporate human rights violations is as follows. When it receives a report of human rights abuse, from a victim or another reliable source, it challenges the company in question to account for what happened. Between September 2013 and December 2016 it made 156 approaches to companies working in Latin America that were accused of abusing the rights of HRDs. This represented 44% of its total number of approaches to firms.
Predictably, the majority (41%) of approaches concerning HRDs related to the energy and mining sector, with construction a distant second with 13%. The most common abuse took the form of intimidation and threats, followed by a second category labelled just ‘killings’.
Of the total, Peru came behind Colombia, Brazil, Guatemala and Honduras. This ranking, of course, takes no account of population size. A Global Witness report in 2015, listed the ‘deadliest’ countries in Latin America that year for those defending land and environmental rights as Brazil (50 deaths), followed by Colombia (26) and Peru and Nicaragua (with 12 each). In per capita terms, Nicaragua had the highest rate, followed by Colombia. Peru came higher than Brazil. The ombudsman’s office in Peru (Defensoría del Pueblo) counts 47 people killed in the past three years in conflicts involving mining and oil companies.
A small group of large companies in the Peruvian extractives sector have recently been attempting to find better ways of dealing with conflict. But they have encountered many stumbling blocks, not least the practices of the state itself. As well as the need to keep up the pressure on companies, these issues highlight the serious need for a major policy initiative, particularly with respect to policing and preventative work.
The BHRRC Briefing is available at