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December 2023
Zero Tolerance Policies: Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights releases “Guidance on Respecting the Rights of Human Rights Defenders”.

This comprehensive guidance is the first sectoral wide zero tolerance policy – in the business sector with the highest number of attacks against HRDs and communities - extractives.

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November 2023
Zero Tolerance Policies: Human rights defenders policy tracker

The Business and Human Rights Resource Center released a tracker documents policy commitments in support of HRDs. The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre welcomes the growing number of company policies addressing the impact of their business activities on HRDs and recognising the important role of HRDs in human rights and environmental due diligence processes. Out of 260 companies assessed only nine met all criteria on commitments not to tolerate nor contribute to attacks.

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October 2023
Open Letter: Death threats in Banana supply chain in Ecuador

On October 4, Maricela Guzmán, Diana Montoya and Miriam Ternoz from ASTAC, Ecuador received identical Whatsapp messages in which the senders threatened to kill them. The message included detailed information about the defenders’ family members and addresses.

 

Over 40 civil society organisations including many ZTI members signed on to an open letter facilitated by Swedwatch, calling on companies sourcing from Ecuador to reach out to suppliers and take necessary steps to ensure the case is investigated.

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May 2023
Open Letter: Open letter regarding ongoing harassment, criminalisation, human rights abuses and deforestation in the Ekuri forest.

The Indigenous Ekuri community have been peacefully resisting deforestation on their lands, but in response they have faced threats and intimidation from the logging company. 

This open letter calls on the Government of Nigeria to take action to stop these human rights violations that threaten the collective survival of the community and the Ekuri forest.

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November 2022
Webinar: Introduction to the ZTI Network in Africa

The impacts of large-scale interests in mining, logging, oil and gas, conservation, agribusiness have wreaked havoc to many communities in Africa. These industries are associated with a plethora of human rights violations, including killing of land and environmental defenders, criminalization of communities’ livelihoods, environmental pollution, land grabbing, and distortion of societal social and governance structures.


Are you a community or organisation based in Africa experiencing human rights violations as a result of global supply chains?


Join us on Zoom to find out what the ZTI is, the benefits of its membership and to meet current ZTI members.

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June 2022
Open Letter: Serious human rights violations and criminalisation of HRDs by Palm Oil company in Nestlé's supply chain

Palm Oil company Energy & Palma has been using Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) to criminalise defenders in Ecuador. Afro-descendant land rights defenders have been ordered to pay fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result of peacefully protesting against Energy & Palma's illegal occupation of their land. Nestle's attempts to establish a mediated dialogue process were full of irregularities.

 

The letter urges Nestlé to take concrete measures to halt the human rights impacts and environmental harms connected with Energy & Palma's operations.

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January 2022
Open Letter: REPSA's response to Open Letter on palm oil sourcing is misleading and fails to take responsibility for rights violations and environmental disaster

On June 10, 2021, a variety of national and international NGOs sent an Open Letter to multinational companies that were sourcing palm oil from Reforestadora de Palma S.A (REPSA) in Guatemala, which is linked to rights violations and ecocide. 

REPSA issues a response in which it claimed to have resolved issues stemming from two oil spills, but this is not the case. This second letter, dated January 2022, calls again on multinationals to stop all sourcing of palm oil from REPSA until these issues are resolved. 

Read the full letter in English and in Spanish

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December 2021
ArticleTackling the growing threats to human rights defenders, indigenous leaders and communities through business and government respect for collective land rights  

On December 3, Zero Tolerance Initiative held a webinar where four distinguished Indigenous leaders shared their reflections on the implications the recent COP26 summit and UNGPs in the next decade (following on from the 10th UN Forum on Business and Human Rights) could have to land and environmental defenders and securing collective rights. 

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September 2020
Webinar: Forest communities under fire - violence and intimidation in palm oil & soya supply chains

The agribusiness sector has seen a 60% increase in killings of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) in the last year, most of them indigenous peoples.

This webinar is an opportunity for forest communities from Indonesia, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru to share their struggles with a global audience. Activists, civil society organisations and other interested parties are invited to hear from HRDs about the situation on the ground for communities affected by industrial-scale palm oil and soya production. This will be a space for mutual learning on strategies needed to address collective threats to defenders.

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May 2019 
Article: A 75-year-old indigenous rights defender

Until recently, the last members of the indigenous Souy people lived peacefully on their ancestral territory. But the arrival of a sugar cane company, with ties to the President, meant they lost access to their land and waterholes. The company mustered the support of the police, and when villagers began blocking the roads, the company used force to remove them, and many villagers were arrested or beaten. IWGIA tells the story of a courageous 75-year-old woman, who helped the Souy defend their land against this invading agribusiness.

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Article: Shipbo-Konibo community of Santa Clara de Uchunya

The Shipibo-Konibo community of Santa Clara de Uchunya are struggling against the dispossession and devastation of their ancestral lands due to the aggressive expansion of oil palm. As well as negatively impacting food security and destroying their way of life, the company’s presence has driven fierce competition for control over lands between groups of settlers dedicated to land-trafficking and exposed the Shipibo-Konibo indigenous community to intimidation, threats and attacks. 

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December 2023
StatementFriends of the Earth groups denounce recent case of intimidation by Astra Agro Lestari, call for immediate de-escalation

On December 4, staff and security agents from AAL – Indonesia’s second largest palm oil company – visited two women in Rio Mukti village in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, insisting they sign a letter stating there was no land conflict between AAL-subsidiary PT Lestari Tani Teladan (PT LTT) and local communities.

The visit came two days after WALHI (Friends of the Earth Indonesia) shared a video featuring the two women speaking about the adverse impacts of AAL’s operations and calling for the return of communities’ lands.

 

FOE groups are calling on all concerned parties, including Indonesian authorities, to intervene and de-escalate the situation immediately. 

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October 2023
Statement: FAPI condemns the violent death of the spiritual leader in Paraguay

On October 22, Mr. Arnaldo Benítez Vargas, the spiritual leader of the Yvy Pyte community in Cerro Corá, Amambaywas violently murdered.

ZTI Steering Group member FAPI condemns the killing and demands concrete responses from the State to protect ancestral and legalized lands.

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September 2023
Open Letter: Open letter calling to End Sourcing from Brazilian Palm Oil Giant linked to Violence and Land Grabs

The land conflicts between  Brasil BioFuels (BBF) and Indigenous peoples and local communities are long standing in the state of Para, Brazil, as BBF's plantations are located on land claimed as traditional lands by indigenous peoples and local communities.

On the eve of the Amazon Summit in Belém, this August, security guards and the Military Police are accused of having shot four indigenous Tembé people in this escalating land conflict.

This open letter calls for the suspension of sourcing from BBF until the company takes action to end all forms of violence and intimidation against the community and until harms have been compensated and fully remedied to the satisfaction of the aggrieved communities.

Read the full open letter in English and in Portuguese.

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April 2023
Zero Tolerance Policies: Oxfam guidance on Zero Tolerance Policies.

The briefing paper “Threats to Human Rights Defenders: Six ways companies should respond” is an important milestone towards Zero Tolerance Policies and details how companies should respond to the growing number of threats facing human rights defenders, offering six key recommendations.

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September 2022
Open Letter: Ongoing criminalization, human rights abuses, and land grabbing by Astra Agro Lestari and subsidiaries

Representatives from Indigenous Peoples, civil society,
and community-based organizations around the world sent an open letter to household consumer goods companies demanding they immediately suspend Indonesia's second largest palm oil company, Astra Agro Lestari from their supply chains and work to redress the grievances of impacted communities.

The letter is directed at the “Forest Positive Coalition” of the Consumer Goods Forum – a consortium of the world’s top consumer brands – ahead of its meeting during NYC Climate Week 2022.

Read the full open letter in English and in Bahasa Indonesian.

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May 2022
Open Letter:  Against the criminalization, delegitimization and smear campaigns of ZTI member Danilo Rueda.

This open letter, signed by organisations from across the world, stands in support of Colombian human rights organisation Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz. It highlights the attacks carried out against Justicia y Paz's legal representative Danilo Rueda, and other human rights defenders in Colombia.

 

Danilo has been subject to a smear campaign against him by powerful sectors of the Colombian media and political class. These accusations, attacks and smear campaign have put Rueda's life and integrity at risk. Danilo is a member of the ZTI steering group.

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January 2022
Letter: Illegal mining leads to grave human rights violations in Cañamomo Lomaprieta Indigenous Reserve

International and national non-governmental and academic organisations have sent a letter to Colombian governmental and security authorities to highlight their concern about illegal mining in the Resguardo Indígena de Origen Colonial Cañamomo Lomaprieta.

The letter states their concern about the lack of implementation of the orders of Colombia's Constitutional Court Decision T530 of September 2016. This Court Decision reiterates the Resguardo Cañamomo Lomaprieta's right to self-govern their own territory and create their own regulations regarding mining on their land. 

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July 2021
Event: Increasing Support for Environmental, Land and Indigenous Defenders

Join us to hear from indigenous and local community leaders from Kenya, Russia, Bangladesh and Peru, who will share their key demands for land rights to be recognised as a climate solution.

 

The event will reflect on how demands from COP26 should be taken into account in relation to implementation of the UNGPs and will explore the underlying drivers of violence against human rights defenders focusing on recognising collective land rights as one critical solution.

Introductory and concluding words: 

Anita Ramasastry - Member of the Working Group on Business and Human Rights.

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December 2019
Event: Global Mobilisation to End the Criminalisation of Land Rights Defenders

During the Global Mobilisation organisations and individuals worldwide will call for an end to the criminalisation of land rights defenders.  We will demand that governments protect Indigenous People and local communities defending their lands, forests, and waters and act to recognise their land rights.

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October 2018
Article: The Arhuacos’ last stand in the heights of Sierra Nevada

The Sierra Nevada of Santa Maria is rich in precious minerals. 261 mining concessions have already been given, and a further 244 concessions are pending . However, the indigenous Arhuacos have not been included in these decisions and processes. In 2017, this led to a massive protest against the mining projects and their destructive impact on their territories.

“For we Arhuaco, our territory is the basis of our knowledge and it forms the setting in which our culture is able to develop”, says Rubiel Zalabata.

Read the story, and watch a short film about the Arhuacos from IWGIA here

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November 2023
Press Release: Murder of Indigenous Land and Human Rights Defender casts a shadow over the opening of COP28

Environmental defender Quinto Inuma Alvarado was shot and killed by hooded men in response to his work defending his land from illegal logging and drug trafficking in the San Martín region of Peru (valle del Chipurana).

“This is why we are threatened, because we are resisting,” Quinto Inuma said at the Latin America regional meeting of the Zero Tolerance Initiative in 2022. 

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October 2023
Statement: Killing of Indigenous community member protesting palm oil in Indonesia

On October 7, the Indonesian police opened fire on a demonstration of the Indigenous Dayak Banjar community.

 

The community were protesting in Bangkal Village, Seruyan, Central Kalimantan against the encroachments of a palm oil company. This excessive use of force by the police resulted in the death of one Indigenous individual, injuries to two more, and the arbitrary detention of dozens.

 

See statements from FPP and IPRI. Local organisations supporting the community were able to access the ZTI Urgent Response and Prevention Fund.

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September 2023
Zero Tolerance Policies: RAN welcomes Unilever’s Zero Tolerance Policy.
 

Rainforest Action Network has welcomed the publication of Unilever Principles in Support of Human Rights Defenders. “Unilever has shown that global brands can take a zero tolerance approach to the violence, intimidation and criminalization of Human Rights Defenders […]Most importantly, it lays out a step-by-step guide to the implementation of a dedicated policy on protecting Human Rights Defenders. This is a global first for a multinational corporation that has a significant footprint in the tropical rainforest regions where Human Rights Defenders are under increasing attack and civic space is shrinking.”

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February 2023
Workshop: UN Advocacy in Asia

International advocacy is a critical area of work for human/environmental rights defenders and the organisations that support them. The United Nations (UN) in particular has various mechanisms dedicated to hearing and amplifying cases of human rights abuses and in applying pressure on states to respond to cases and implement international commitments.

 

While UN mechanisms are designed to support and respond to rights defenders, navigating the UN system is not always easy. There are myriad events, offices, calls for inputs, protocols and regional particularities that can be daunting to navigate, particularly when expedience is important. A key question faced by rights defenders looking to raise awareness and/or gain support for their cause is, what is the most effective way to engage with the UN system?

The workshop will include an introduction by Romchat Wachirarattanakornkul - Human Rights, Climate Change & Environment Regional Focal Point at UN Human Rights – Asia,  to the UN Human Rights mechanisms, how best to engage and their value as platforms for advocacy. There will also be an opportunity for experience-sharing, questions and discussion.  

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July 2022
Open Letter: AIDESEP repudiates Ocho Sur palm oil group intimidation, demands buyers step up to protect human rights and forests

In response to an open letter by the Ocho Sur palm oil group, the National Amazonian Indigenous Peoples’ organisation, AIDESEP, issued a public letter in response on July 7, 2022. This letter accuses Ocho Sur of using intimidatory purposes to conceal its "divide and rule" strategy, which affects the self-determination and self-government of the Amazonian Indigenous peoples of Ucayali.

The letter further calls on Ocho Sur's international buyers to exercise due diligence before buying palm oil from this company.

Read the full open letter here

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March 2022
Statement: Paohyan community declare state of emergency due to deforestation and State abandonment

After a meeting from 28-29 March, 2022, the Shipibo-Konibo community of Paohyan declared a state of emergency on their territory  in the face of the abandonment of the Peruvian state and the pressure on their territory due to deforestation, illegal logging and drug trafficking. 

The Paohyan community invited President Pedro Castillo Torres to listen to their demands. They will not allow anybody into their community apart from State officials and representatives of allied NGOs. 

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December 2021
Webinar: Voices from the Ground - Human rights defenders detail how respect for their lands and lives is necessary for a successful UNGP implementation

Join us to hear from indigenous and local community leaders from Kenya, Russia, Bangladesh and Peru, who will share their key demands for land rights to be recognised as a climate solution.

 

The event will reflect on how demands from COP26 should be taken into account in relation to implementation of the UNGPs and will explore the underlying drivers of violence against human rights defenders focusing on recognising collective land rights as one critical solution.

Introductory and concluding words: 

Anita Ramasastry - Member of the Working Group on Business and Human Rights.

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September 2020 
Article: Consumer Goods Forum companies must prevent violence and killings in supply chains 

The agribusiness sector has seen a 60% increase in killings of human rights defenders in the last year, most of them indigenous peoples.

“The agribusiness supply chain is one of the riskiest for human rights defenders and communities,” said Michel Forst, former UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

 

“The Consumer Goods Forum – as a key platform for retailers, producers of products from palm oil, soya among others – can play a key role in advancing the [human rights] debate and improve corporate practices related to human rights defenders and environmental rights defenders.”

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July 2019 
Article: IWGIA condemns killing of indigenous leader in Brazil

Emyra Waiãpi, a 68-year-old indigenous leader, was stabbed to death as around 50 gold miners, a dozen of whom were heavily armed, entered the remote Waiãpi indigenous reserve in the northern Brazilian state of Amapá. IWGIA condemns the killing of the Waiãpi leader and all indigenous peoples who are defending their rights to their traditional lands, which are rapidly being exploited in the global land rush for natural resources.

Read the story

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Article: Customary community of Nagari Koto Baru

As land disputes over palm oil plantations in West Sumatra, Indonesia flare up, community leaders and human rights defenders are being subjected to increasing intimidation and criminalisation by local police allegedly spurred on by planters. 

Read the story

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