In light of the increasing threats against human rights defenders globally, and the urgent situation facing indigenous rights defenders in the Philippines currently, we felt it important to issue a broad call to action for companies in the form of an investor statement, asking companies to take broad, systemic action to protect defenders, and immediate action to ensure the protection and physical safety of indigenous rights defenders in the Philippines.
Between 2015 and 2017, over 1,000 attacks on defenders working on business and human rights had been identified. Between 2016 and 2017, researchers identified a 34% global rise in attacks against human rights defenders. In 2016 alone, at least 200 land and environmental rights defenders were murdered, with killings and physical attacks disproportionately affecting those engaged in the defense and promotion of land and environmental rights.
In the Philippines, a petition dated 21 February 2018 filed in court by the Department of Justice of the Philippines, seeks to have a number of indigenous peoples’ leaders and defenders, who work to defend against threats from agriculture, mining, and industrial operations on indigenous lands, declared as terrorist, including the renowned human rights defender Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Rights. Companies with significant operations and/or supply chains in the Philippines include Unilever, Coca-Cola, Nestle and Google.
The Investor Alliance for Human Rights (IAHR) is publishing a statement to communicate the importance this issue holds for investors and to challenge companies to reflect on how they can positively contribute to ensuring respect for and protection of the rights of human rights defenders. The statement is available for review below and we are inviting investors to sign-on.
The deadline is Friday April 13, 2018 for signatures. We hope you can lend your voice in support of this effort.