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Weekly Update - 6 January 2016

Lead Story
Myanmar: Landslide hits jade mines leaving workers missing, feared dead

GlobalPost; AFP; Sydney Morning Herald

  • estimates vary from 3 to 50 missing workers; more than 100 people were killed in a landslide in the same area in November
  • jade industry dominated by Myanmar military & Chinese businesses
  • workers said to be “in overdrive” before new govt. takes office & introduces anticipated regulations for the industry

(Photo: Jade pendants for sale in Hong Kong; credit: Global Witness)
From us
Asia & Pacific
Europe & Central Asia
Middle East & No. Africa
From Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
Commentary: "Communities on the environmental frontline: Thailand’s first transboundary case"

Bobbie Sta. Maria, Southeast Asia Researcher & Representative, in Asian Correspondent

Interview: "Business and Human Rights: Is the cup half full or half empty?"

Mauricio Lazala, Deputy Director, in Human Rights at Sea

Vacancy: Research Consultant for Myanmar Project at Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (deadline 15 Jan)
Commentary: "10 New Year’s resolutions for CEOs to advance human rights & sustainability"

Irit Tamir, Politics of Poverty blog, Oxfam America

352 billion GBP investor coalition calls on companies to use 100% renewable energy

Guardian (UK)

US Supreme Court urged to hear Nestlé, Cargill & ADM case over alleged child labour in Côte d'Ivoire in order to clarify unresolved Alien Tort issues

John Bellinger, Arnold & Porter law firm, on Lawfare blog (USA)

Union of People Affected by Texaco calls for binding treaty on business & human rights

Transnational Institute

Commentary: "Lawyers need to understand how human rights affects business"

Marianna Papadakis, Australian Financial Review

Uganda: World Bank pulls funding from road project involving govt. & contractor over environmental & human rights concerns, including harassment of female employees


Nigeria: Several people killed & many others injured after gas tanker explodes at Chicason Group facility

Sun; NAIJ; The News (Nigeria); New York Times; AFP

  • death toll reports vary from 8 to over 100
  • witnesses say company employees may have caused the explosion; company statement also included
Malawi: Govt. to investigate reports claiming land grabs by multinatl. agribusinesses

Nyasa Times (Malawi)

Ecuador: NGOs allege forced eviction of communities to accommodate Ecuacorriente's Mirador mine

Front Line Defenders

  • we invited China Railway Construction (owner of Ecuacorriente) to respond - it did not
Further to our 16 Dec Update: Mexico: Foxconn responds to workers alleging labour rights abuses & sexual harassment in Ciudad Juarez "maquilas"
  • we invited CommScope, Eaton, Foxconn & Lexmark to respond
  • CommScope, Foxconn & Lexmark responses provided; we will indicate whether Eaton responds in a future update
Honduras: Documentary shows impacts of "model cities" funded by foreign investors on indigenous lands

Natl. Lawyers Guild Intl. Committee

Asia & Pacific
Call for ASEAN-wide action plan on business & human rights to combat haze pollution & human trafficking

Thomas Thomas, Mahdev Mohan & Jaya Anil Kumar, in Business Times (Singapore)

Thailand: Murders of 2 advocates working on land rights & natural resources underline need to protect human rights defenders, says UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesperson

UN News Centre

India: Govt. launches initiative to support women workers, extending maternity leave & mandating access to crèches near offices

Hindustan Times; Indian Express; Times of India; Economic Times; New Delhi Television (India); Wall Street Journal (USA)

China: European Chamber of Commerce raises concerns about new anti-terror law, which requires tech firms to help decrypt information


  • among its concerns: obligation to monitor, report & censor terrorist-related content will hinder freedom of expression
Commentary: "Cruel irony: China’s Communists are stamping out labor activism"

Eli Friedman (Cornell Univ.), Aaron Halegua (New York Univ.) & Jerome A. Cohen (US-Asia Law Institute), in Washington Post (USA)

Europe & Central Asia
Kazakhstan: Video documentary on Berezovka villagers' struggle for justice with oil companies following mass poisoning of children

Crude Accountability

UK: Sports Direct promises to pay staff above minimum wage after Guardian exposé; unions urge company to become living wage employer

Guardian (UK)

UK: Pension funds & lawyers urge fossil fuel companies to disclose climate risks following Paris climate agreement

Independent (UK)

Middle East & North Africa
Qatar announces changes to Kafala sponsorship system

Gulf Business

  • changes will reportedly allow migrant workers to change jobs without employer's permission & increase fines for withholding workers' passports
Human Rights Watch releases guidelines for construction companies to respect labour rights in Gulf

Associated Press

Qatar: Compulsory health insurance provided by private firms to be introduced for expatriates in 2016

Intl. Medical Travel Journal

Company responses Non-responses
Forthcoming events:
  • human rights law & the extractive industries (18-19 Feb, Panama City)
  • course for businesses impacted by the Modern Slavery Act (1 Mar, London)
  • Sedex 2016: "Simplifying Supply Chain Sustainability" (2-3 Mar, London)
  • compliance lab on UN Guiding Principles (8 Mar, Copenhagen)
  • forum: how to build supply security with smallholder farmers (22-23 Mar, London)
Details of these and other events further in the future can be found here.  Please send relevant event information to Alex Janczenia:  
Research Consultant for Myanmar Project at Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (deadline 15 Jan)

Other vacancies: Further details and other recently posted jobs available here.  Please send job announcements to Alex Janczenia:  
We take no position on views by commentators, organizations & companies in the materials in this email:
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