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Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Working Group on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises

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Oral statement delivered by Mr. R. Iniyan Ilango on behalf of

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)


Thursday, 12 June 2014

Thank you, Mr. President. FORUM-ASIA appreciates the report of the Working Group on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises (A/HRC/26/25) and we support the extension of the Working Group’s mandate for the continued action of this Council to ensure that human rights defenders (HRDs) working on corporate abuses are protected and supported by State as well as non-state actors. While we welcome the Working Group’s acknowledgement of the vital role of human rights defenders (HRDs) and their security concerns as featured in the report, we regret that the Working Group has not explicitly elaborated in detail measures needed for the protection of HRDs and for their meaningful participation in the Working Group’s future activities.

Mr. President, we draw this Council’s attention to extensive threats and harassment faced by HRDs working on corporate accountability issues, and highlight that the challenges faced by such defenders must be addressed when implementing the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as well as in the Working Group’s activities. HRDs play a crucial role in exposing business-related human rights abuses and ensuring accountability for corporate human rights violations. Unfortunately, there is a disturbing increase in violent attacks, repression and criminalisation of HRDs who peacefully denounce adverse human rights impacts of corporate projects in Asia. For example, last month forty villagers protesting against a gold mine project by Tungkum Limited (TKL) in the Loei Province of Thailand, were attacked by a group of three hundred unidentified armed men. The armed men beat and tortured villagers including two key HRDs who have struggled against the mining[1]. This caused injury and loss, contributing to a climate of fear among HRDs working on corporate abuses. In Odisha, India, HRDs remain subjected to harassment, intimidation and violence as well as false charges as a result of their legitimate activities[2]. Although several UN Special Procedure Mandate Holders, including the Working Group, issued a joint statement in October 2013[3] citing serious human rights concerns such as arbitrary detentions and false charges, two HRDs were arrested in April 2014 while they were leaving their villages. The police has filed numerous false criminal cases and warrants against almost entire villages in Dhinkia and Govindpur, India. Most of villagers including HRDs and community leaders are under constant threat of indiscriminate arrest by the police. We reiterate that States should ensure the protection of HRDs and remind corporations that they must respect the rights of HRDs. We further urge States to undertake independent and thorough investigations into the attacks against HRDs and hold perpetrators accountable.

Finally, FORUM-ASIA urges business enterprises to respect and support activities of HRDs. Corporations should stop infringing on the rights of HRDs and should put the Guiding Principles on Business and

Human Rights into practice in order to ensure their compliance with international human rights law and standards. We also request the Working Group to follow up with respective governments on human rights abuses, and encourage the Working Group to address these concerns directly with the responsible companies. Thank you Mr. President.


[2] FORUM-ASIA, Item 3: Promotion and Protection of all Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, including the Right to Development – General Debate, 8 March 2013.

[3] OHCHR, Press Statement, India: Urgent call to halt Odisha mega-steel project amid serious human rights concerns, 1 October 2013


Click here to download the oral statement (PDF)