November 15, 2016
The International Corporate Accountability Roundtable is pleased to share that it has signed onto a joint letter calling on the FMO, the Dutch development bank, to adopt measures in its Sustainability Policy to prevent and address reprisals against human rights defenders (HRDs) related to the activities it finances.
The statement is presented to the FMO as part of its open consultation with stakeholders regarding its Sustainability Policy. It is signed by thirty-two human rights, environmental, and development organizations from around the world, including a number of ICAR members, such as Global Witness, Accountability Counsel, Amnesty International, CIEL, Human Rights Watch, and Peace Brigades International.
As the letter states, "the need for the FMO to strengthen protection for HRDs was poignantly made clear by the murder of Berta Cáceres in March 2016, who for years protested the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project in Honduras, financed by FMO." The FMO has faced rough criticism from a number of civil society and international actors, including the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples, for failing to take steps to protect HRDs opposing FMO funded projects, even as threats to the lives and livelihoods of defenders became increasingly evident.
The joint letter also aligns with ICAR's ongoing advocacy and messaging around the need for HRDs to be recognized, protected, and supported, and for States and businesses to ensure they contribute to a safe and enabling environment for the work of defenders. In June 2016, ICAR and the International Service for Human Rights published a thematic supplement to the ICAR-DIHR Naps Toolkit, Human Rights Defenders in National Action Plans (NAPs) on Business and Human Rights. This thematic report provides guidance on how HRDs can be consulted in the development of NAPs, and how their rights can be addressed through national policies on business and human rights.