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Step up protection for activists who challenge big business in Colombia |

“Critical threats, together with loss of life threats, are commonplace in Colombia for defenders who increase considerations about company exercise, specifically in land-intensive industries,” stated Mary Lawlor, UN Particular Rapporteur on the scenario of human rights defenders, in a press release issued on Thursday. 

The specialists drew consideration to the scenario of Pedro Jose Velasco Tumiña, an indigenous Misak defender who has been receiving threats for his advocacy on land points. 

Towards unfavorable impacts 

Since final July, members of the Misak and Nasa indigenous peoples, in addition to campesino communities, have held protests within the Cauca Division, positioned within the southwest, on land owned by Smurfit-Kappa, a world chief in paper packaging. 

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As of 2021, the Irish firm managed over 67,000 hectares in Colombia, primarily comprised of pine and eucalyptus plantations. 

The protesters have denounced the unfavorable impacts of Smurfit-Kappa’s use of land within the nation on human rights and the atmosphere. They’re advocating for the simply implementation of land reform provisions beneath the historic 2016 Peace Settlement that ended 5 a long time of battle with FARC rebels in Colombia. 

The indigenous communities assert their proper to reclaim land owned by Smurfit-Kappa in keeping with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Mr. Velasco Tumiña started receiving loss of life threats in August 2021, the specialists stated. He even travelled to the Irish capital, Dublin, earlier this 12 months to speak his considerations to the corporate. Upon returning dwelling, he obtained one other loss of life menace. 

The specialists stated at the very least one particular person has been killed because the land motion started, with a person allegedly shot by safety forces throughout a protest final August. 

Accountability to guard 

“The State should fulfil its accountability to guard human rights and examine any allegations of violations,” they stated. “The threats in opposition to Pedro are horrendous and have to be taken severely, as should the problems he and others are elevating.” 

The UN specialists additionally supplied recommendation to the brand new Colombian authorities which takes workplace on Sunday. 

“As a way to guarantee companies respect human rights, the incoming Authorities ought to encourage corporations to interact constructively with human rights defenders. Corporations, for his or her half, ought to publicly state their willingness to take action, even when the defenders’ advocacy considerations the corporate’s personal operations,” they stated. 

About UN specialists 

The specialists who issued the assertion have been Ms. Lawlor; Francisco Cali Tzay, UN Particular Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, and members of the Working Group on Enterprise and Human Rights

They obtained their mandates from the UN Human Rights Council, which is positioned in Geneva. They serve of their particular person capability and are neither UN employees, nor are they paid for his or her work. 

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