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Weekly Update - 4 November 2015

Lead Story
Ranking Digital Rights: Internet & telecommunications companies ranked on freedom of expression & privacy
  • 2015 Corporate Accountability Index ranks 16 firms on disclosure of privacy & freedom of expression policies & practices
  • finds "no winners" - even leading firms fall short
  • Google received top score, followed by Yahoo, Microsoft, Vodafone, Twitter, and AT&T

(Photo: Ranking Digital Rights)
From us
Asia & Pacific
Europe & Central Asia

Middle East & North Africa
From Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
Corporate Human Rights Benchmark methodology development update
  • Over 400 organisations & individuals consulted
  • revised methodology to be published in early 2016
  • reports from CHRB consultations meetings & stakeholder submissions provided
New contributions to our Climate Dialogues blog series: "Make in India" should not break India - and here is what Modi govt. should do

Harpreet Kaur, Southeast Asia Researcher & Representative, on News Minute

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre appoints Joy Mabenge as Anglophone Southern & Western Africa Researcher & Representative

5 vacancies at Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
UN Forum (16-18 Nov): Explore events at biggest business & human rights gathering IndustriALL Global Union and H&M sign global framework agreement to protect rights of garment workers
  • monitoring committees in Cambodia, Bangladesh, Myanmar & Turkey will aim to "safeguard the implementation of the agreement from the factory floor upwards"
Facebook changes "real name" policy following calls by human rights advocates for equal treatment & protection of all users

Guardian (UK)

  • also provided: Facebook's response to paper on real name policy
Institute for Human Rights and Business survey on priority business & human rights issues for 2016 (closes 10 Nov)

Intl. Council on Mining & Metals updates guide for companies on engagement with indigenous peoples

Following our last Update: Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative responds to civil society letter calling for stronger reporting requirements on climate risks
Nigeria: Govt. closes Hongxing Steel plant after several workers die in workplace accidents

Nigeria Daily News, Naij, Information Nigeria

  • one worker died from burns in liquefied iron spill, one crushed to death by compressor
Court dismisses Maasai community's case against Tanzania Breweries & Tanzania Conservation for forceful & violent eviction to pave way for tourism; community to appeal decision

Minority Rights Group Intl.

  • indigenous group claims their homes were burned, they had been beaten & shot at for trying to use land & water near contested area
USA: New York Times investigation shows most firms force employees & clients into arbitration as an "alternate system of justice"
  • article describes arbitration system as favourable to companies, based on interviews with over 30 arbitrators
Brazil: 2 Guarani teenagers feared dead amidst attacks on indigenous lands by gunmen from cattle ranchers & sugarcane, corn & soy farms

Survival Intl.

Guatemala: NGOs & indigenous communities brief Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on negative impacts on land, water & health of oil palm plantations

Human Rights Brief

Asia & Pacific
50,000 North Koreans work overseas in slave-like conditions, UN official says

Associated Press

  • UN researcher finds many North Korean workers stationed in China & Russia
  • conditions include long hours, inadequate food, minimal time off, low pay
Chinese court rules against mining company over environmental damage, in lawsuit under new environmental law allowing NGOs to sue polluters in the public interest

Jurist (USA); Xinhua News Agency (China)

China: Court orders ConocoPhillips to pay 1.7m yuan to 21 fishermen over damages in 2011 oil spill

Xinhua (China)

Indonesia: Report claims 19 people have died from haze-related ailments & thousands afflicted with respiratory diseases


Cambodia: Forest Stewardship Council disassociates from Vietnam Rubber Group after complaints panel considers allegations of human rights & environmental abuse

Radio Free Asia

  • panel found evidence that company illegally seized villagers’ land
Gender inequality in Pakistan & Sri Lanka: Few women in senior positions, pay gap persists

Ceylon Today (Sri Lanka); Tribune (Pakistan)

Europe & Central Asia
Guardian investigation reveals trafficked migrant workers suffer abuse in Irish fishing industry
  • workers from Egypt, Ghana, India & Philippines report abuses including being confined to vessels, receiving less than half of the Irish minimum wage, excessive working hours
  • article contains statements from boat owners & crew agencies alleged to be trafficking workers
UK: Supply chain transparency provisions of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 come into effect; govt. releases guidance on compliance
  • law requires companies to disclose steps they are taking to tackle forced labour & modern slavery
UK: Volkswagen could face corporate manslaughter charge over emissions scandal, says Transport Minister

Independent (UK)

European pension funds, including ABP & Nordea Asset Management, engage with companies on treatment of refugees & asylum seekers

Financial Times (UK)

  • refers to decisions by Australian pension funds to divest from Transfield Services over reported abuses at its off-shore detention centre
Middle East & North Africa
Qatar: ITUC calls labour law reforms a "sham" & says they add a new layer of repression for migrant workers

Intl. Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)

Qatar: Judge overturns involuntary manslaughter convictions of nursery owners in Villaggio Mall fire lawsuit

New Zealand Herald; NRIcafe; Doha News (Qatar)

United Arab Emirates: Ministerial decree could help protect migrant workers' rights, but lacks detail on implementation & enforcement

Human Rights Watch

Company responses Non-responses
Forthcoming events:
  • course on implementing UN Guiding Principles in agri-food sector (Milan, 6 Nov)
  • law & development training, including business & human rights (London, 7 Nov)
  • lecture: "Responsibility for Human Rights: Transnational Corporations in Imperfect States" (London, 10 Nov)
  • 2015 European Pro Bono Forum (Rome, 11-13 Nov)
  • roundtable on role of business in responding to needs of refugees (London, 12 Nov)
  • workshop on UN Guiding Principles reporting framework (Warsaw, 12 Nov)
  • Senegal CSR Forum (Dakar, 19-22 Nov)
  • summit on transforming CSR in Qatar (Doha, 23-25 Nov)
Details of these and other events further in the future can be found here.  Please send relevant event information to Alex Janczenia:  
Current vacancies: Further details and other recently posted jobs available here.  Please send job announcements to Alex Janczenia:  
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