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5 December 2018 

Lead Story
Australia: Federal Parliament passes Modern Slavery Act 2018

Thomson Reuters Foundation; The Conversation

  • Act is world’s second national anti-slavery law & requires large companies with operations in Australia to publish annual statements on risks of modern slavery in their supply chains & remedial actions taken
  • Law praised by campaigners but some groups criticise lack of penalties for companies who fail to comply 
  • See our new blog series dedicated to this issue, including a first piece discussing whether the act will live up to expectations
photo credit: Lauri Väin
From us
Asia & Pacific
Europe & Central Asia
Middle East & No. Africa
From Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
KnowTheChain benchmark evaluates 43 apparel and footwear companies on efforts to address forced labour in supply chains
  • Average company score is low (37 out of 100), with three luxury brands scoring less than 15 out of 100 (LVMH, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Prada)
  • Top performers include Adidas, Lululemon, and Gap 
Briefing finds construction companies in Jordan & Lebanon have inadequate labour rights policies & practices
  • Only seven out of 38 companies surveyed had publicly available human rights policies
  • Companies lack awareness of the significant human rights risks in their sector, particularly for migrant workers & refugees
Our latest Annual Report is now available, covering projects, finances & notable milestones of the 2017/2018 financial year 

Guest blog: Human rights defenders give sobering reality check at UN Forum on Business & Human Rights

ECLT Foundation

Guest blog: Labour exploitation in Saipan: What difference does 20 years make? 

New York University School of Law

Climate litigation updates & calls for rights-based climate action at COP24 climate negotiations    
  • Govt. in Canada to face youth-led lawsuit over insufficient action on climate change
  • Vanuatu govt. may sue fossil fuel companies & other countries over climate change & the "existential threat" it poses to the islands
  • Follow the latest news on business & human rights at COP24, including five demands to ensure climate actions respect human rights
Construction firm Vinci faces new complaint filed in France over alleged abuse of migrant workers' rights in Qatar

Sherpa; Reuters

  • We invited Vinci to respond; response provided
German court hears lawsuit against clothing retailer KiK over Pakistan factory fire that killed more than 250 workers; article includes company comments

Deutsche Welle; ECCHR

Women Human Rights Defenders increasingly under attack; UN Women calls for better protection of activists on women human rights defenders' day

UN Women; Guardian (UK)

NGOs urge oil companies operating in Equatorial Guinea to denounce attack on human rights defender as unacceptable for country wishing to join transparency initiative 

Publish What You Pay

  • Country is on its third attempt to join the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, previous candidacies were unsuccessful because of govt. crackdown on civil society
  • We invited Chevron, Clontarf Energy, ExxonMobil, Kosmos Energy, Marathon Oil, Noble Energy, Ophir Energy and Total to respond; responses provided for Clontarf Energy and Total, the other companies did not respond
Mauritius allegedly used by companies as tax haven to shift profits away from Africa

Foreign Policy

  • We invited Malawi Mangoes, a company featured in this article, to respond; response provided
Ghana: Unilever launches project to promote women's entrepreneurship & financial independence

Ghanaian Times

Honduras: Seven men convicted for murdering environmentalist Berta Cáceres on orders of Desa company

Guardian (UK)

  • Desa’s president is accused of masterminding killing and faces trial separately; he and the company deny all wrongdoing
  • Activists have criticised the lack of investigation into the possible role played by politicians & the military in killing
USA: Patagonia donates USD 10 million tax break money to groups protecting the environment & finding solutions to the climate crisis


  • Money comes from the significant tax cuts President Trump awarded US corporations last year, which Patagonia CEO called “irresponsible,” saying company taxes fund vital services
Mining affected communities denounce lack of progress by Canadian Govt. to appoint Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise

Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability, MiningWatch Canada & Amnesty International

Asia & Pacific
Electric vehicle manufacturers allegedly provide Chinese Govt. with data on location of customers’ cars

Associated Press; The Verge

  • Position information and other data points being transmitted to Chinese govt. monitoring centres; critics say the data could be used for surveillance
  • Companies allegedly involved include BMW, Daimler, Ford, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Tesla, Volkswagen; article includes comments from some of these
Google employees & human rights groups call on company to cancel censored search engine in China; say it would violate rights to expression & privacy

The Intercept; The Verge; Google; CNBC; Google Employees Against Dragonfly

  • Second letter from Google employees expressing concern over “Project Dragonfly” declares leadership’s response has been “unsatisfactory”
  • Company spokesperson states project is exploratory and no decision has been made about whether it will be launched
Lu Guang, photojournalist who documented pollution, poverty & AIDS in an industrialising China goes missing; family believe he is being held by police

South China Morning Post; World Press Photo

Thailand: 16 NGOs call on govt. to drop defamation complaints filed by companies against labour rights defenders

Various natl. & intl. groups

Cambodia: Lack of independent unions in Sihanoukville Special Economic Zones results in violation of workers' rights, according to report

Cambodian Center for Independent Media

Europe & Central Asia
UK: Parliamentarians demand that interests of Grenfell Tower victims be protected in buyout of cladding company linked to fire 

Financial Times; Reuters

Switzerland: Govt. publishes voluntary human rights guidelines for commodity sector; NGO calls for binding regulation

Public Eye; SwissInfo

27 civil society groups call on EU Commission to improve legal framework for corporate sustainability reporting

Frank Bold; Business & Human Rights Resource Centre et al. 

Middle East & North Africa
NGOs urge UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to publish database of businesses with activities related to Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territories


Ajman: Indian construction workers stranded without passports and pay

The National (UAE)

Oman: General trade union receives more than 400 labour complaints a year, mostly involving salary delays

Times of Oman

Company responses
Event: The History and Future of the Business and Human Rights Movement (6 Dec, Oxford)

Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights launches open process questionnaire on non-State-based grievance mechanisms (deadline: 31 March 2018)

Call for input: Intl. Finance Corporation's draft impact investment operating principles (deadline: end of Dec  2018)
Forthcoming events: 
  • The History and Future of the Business and Human Rights Movement (6 Dec, Oxford)
  • Human rights impact assessment masterclass (12 Dec, Singapore)
  • The Supply Chain Summit Series (12-13 Dec, San Diego)
Details of these & other future events can be found here. Please send relevant event information to Maja Janjic:
Vacancies at the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre: Current vacancies: Further details & other recently posted jobs available here. To submit a new job announcement in business & human rights please go here.
We take no position on views by commentators, organisations & companies in the materials in this email:
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