(November 17, 2020) — This week from Genva, the United Nations is hosting its annual Forum on Business and Human Rights. Thousands of participants from government, business and civil society groups from around the world will gather online to discuss current issues regarding the implementation of the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights – which outline the global authoritative standards on the business responsibility to respect human rights.
Inclusive Development International has joined with our partners at Equitable Cambodia and the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) to issue a joint statement to the forum. The statement highlights a decade-long struggle by displaced Cambodian communities against Asia’s largest sugar company and explains how a number of prominent companies attending the forum are failing to meet their responsibilities under the Guiding Principles.
To make way for a sugar plantation in Cambodia, a Thai sugar company, Mitr Phol, colluded with the military to raze people’s homes, forcibly seize their land and loot their harvested rice crops.
Extraordinarily, Mitr Phol continues to be a member in good standing of the sugar industry’s sustainability certification initiative Bonsucro, while corporate customers of Mitr Phol, such as Coca-Cola and Corbion, are attempting to wash their hands of any responsibility for human rights abuses that are directly linked to their own supply chains.
The Executive Director of Equitable Cambodia, Eang Vuthy, renewed our joint call for Mitr Phol to undertake remedial action with the communities immediately.
“This problem won’t go away if this company continues to deny the reality of the violations it caused in Cambodia. People will use every legal means possible to hold them accountable,” said Mr. Eang.
Inclusive Development International’s Executive Director, David Pred, said the brands that continue to source sugar from Mitr Phol, such as Coca-Cola, Nestle, Mars and Corbion, should utilize their leverage as key customers to demand that Mitr Phol engage in settlement talks with representatives of the affected families.
“These communities had their homes destroyed, their land seized and their livelihoods taken from them by force. Companies like Coca-Cola can’t claim to be responsible corporate citizens if they are willing to tolerate such serious human rights abuses in their supply chains,” said Mr. Pred.
Mitr Phol’s human rights abuses have been investigated and confirmed by many institutions including the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Thai Human Rights Commission and multiple human rights NGOs, including Inclusive Development International.
Earlier this year the communities scored a major legal victory when the Thai courts granted them class status in their legal action against the company for its harmful actions in Cambodia – paving the way for the first transboundary human rights class action in Asian legal history. But Mr. Pred said it was a long road ahead for the communities seeking justice.
“Legal battles can take years to play out, whereas big brands like Coca-Cola and Nestle have the power and the clout to get Mitr Phol to sit down at the negotiating table with community members next week. If Mitr Phol continues to refuse to engage with the communities and meet its responsibility to compensate them for the damages it caused, then the brands should stop buying their tainted sugar – that is what the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights require,” said Mr. Pred.
2,000 Karimojong flee to Teso in search for food
Kampala, Uganda | Several families in Napak district in the Karamoja sub-region have fled their homes into the Teso region to search for casual jobs. This follows the current food shortage which is hitting the region.
Joseph Lomonyang the Napak LC V chairperson says that over 2,000 people mainly from six sub-counties of Matany, Lopei, Lokopo, Lorengechora, Iriiri and Apeitolim have crossed to the neighbouring Teso districts of Amuria, Katakwi, Kapelebyong and Soroti looking for food.
According to Lomonyang, the number of people to flee the district is most likely to go higher given the current hunger situation.
“Last year, very many people planted crops but all the crops got destroyed by floods making our people vulnerable,” he said.
Elijah Lobucel, the Lokopo sub-county chairperson said everyday mothers and their children walk while those who can afford the costs pay for transport to Teso.
“What we are advising them is not to go to Kampala streets, but if its going to Teso for work to get food it is not bad since the Itesot are brothers and sisters under Ateker cluster,” he said.
Jimmy Tebenyang, the district councillor for Ngoleriet sub-county in Napak district said many children were getting emaciated as a result of lack of enough food.
“There are families where you find children yawning from morning to evening without eating anything and that is why we are calling the government to come to the rescue of people,” he said.
Robert Okitoi, the LC V chairperson Amuria confirmed the presence of Karamoja families in the district and urged the Itesot families to treat the Karimojong as their brothers and sisters.
He also appealed to other district leaders in the Teso region to receive the people of Karamoja with a good heart and share the little they have.
“This is the situation that requires to share, I call upon the people of Amuria and Teso at large that not all the Karimojong are bad people, those who are bad disturbing to raid people of Teso are few and so we should not victimise every one because the law will deal with those raiding but let’s support the Karimojong families,” he said.
Source: THE INDEPENDENT
A local businessman embroiled in land-grab scandals, is in a new case of illegal land eviction
By witnessradio.org Team
Hoima – Uganda – Hoima – Uganda – at least six villages in the Hoima district are on the verge of being grabbed from native communities that have derived their livelihood from the targeted land for decades. The land in contention accommodates more than 10,000 residents.
The affected families are from Kigomba, Kyamucumba, Kalyambuzi, Kyataruga, Kamugembe 1 and 2 villages in Kigorobya Sub County in Hoima district.
Residents accuse a prominent businessman Edgar Agaba of illegally acquiring a title measuring about 438 hectares on which the six villages sit.
The affected learned Agaba’s move when the leadership of Kamugembe Church of Uganda, which also seats on the land wanted to title its land.
According to one of the church leaders who preferred anonymity, the Bunyoro – Kitala diocese suggested that all churches in the dioceses should have titles in order to secure their land, however, we were surprised to see the land we have occupied for decades titled in someone else’s names.
“It’s the district land board that halted our work of registering our land on a condition that we cannot obtain another title on the same land,” a source added.
The source also revealed that all developments on the church land have been halted due to fear of eviction.
“We are in fear, stranded and we don’t even know what is next. That rich man 2 years back evicted our neighboring communities forcefully, and now he is back for us”, says a 68 year old Yedida Nyamwabura a resident of Kamugembe II
Nyamwabura who has been on her 6 acres since her birth calls for help from well-wishers to halt the move.
“We shall have to defend our land, we cannot allow him to evict us, though we are experiencing sleepless nights we know we shall succeed,” says Christopher Kirisi, a 60 years old resident from Kigomba village in an exclusive interview.
In an interview with the vice chairperson of Kamugembe II LC I, Mr. Tibananuka Johnson, he refers a move as a tactic by Mr. Agaba to evict the villages.
“Agaba claims his surveyors surveyed a different chunk of land, but how comes he is not aware, we imagine if the church had not started a move, it would have remained in silence,” added Mr. Tibananuka.
In our interview with Mr. Agaba, he denied the allegations
“I am not aware of what you are talking about, it seems my surveyors made a mistake” he added.
Mr Agaba has been implicated in several forceful and brutal land evictions in areas of hoima, In February 2019, Agaba with the help of the army and the police, forcefully evicted over 500 families off their 485 acres of land from residents of Kyabisagazi 1 and Kyabisagazi 2 villages in Kyabisagazi parish in Kigorobya Sub County. In the brutal eviction four toddlers were reported dead and others with severe injuries.
The toddlers were identified as Samuel Owuuchi, Stephen Ondizi, Rogers Jalwing and Samuel Awungi.
Biden lists US plans for Africa
US President Joe Biden waves as he boards Air Force One before departing from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on February 5. Mr Biden sent a video message to the African Union leaders last Friday. PHOTO/AFP
The United States President, Mr Joe Biden, has spotlighted promoting democracy and human rights, peace and security, trade and investment as his administration’s priorities in Africa.
“… the United States stands ready now to be your partner, in solidarity, support, and mutual respect. We believe in the nations of Africa, in the
continent-wide spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation,” Mr Biden said in advance remarks to the 34th African Union (AU) summit released last Friday.
Leaders of the 55 AU countries met virtually last Saturday and “committed to strengthen the collective response to the crisis, marshalling resources for the benefit of all, and striving to ensure that no country is left behind,” the continental bloc said in a press statement.
Some of the thematic points that AU has outlined – responding to crisis and investing for the benefit of all – dovetail with Biden’s priority areas such as advancing prosperity for all nations and addressing conflicts costing lives in Africa.
“…my administration is committing to rebuilding our partnerships around the world and re-engaging with international institutions like the African Union. We must all work together to advance our shared vision of a better future,” added Mr Biden, who said Washington was rebounding to active international and multilateral engagement.
This would be a marked foreign policy departure from his predecessor Donald Trump whose administration pursued a more insular “America first” strategy that culminated in his withdrawal of the US from, among others, the Paris Climate Accord, the Iran nuclear deal and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Mr Biden took over office as America’s 46th President on January 20 and has signed several executive orders reversing multiple Trump policies, including returning Washington to the climate deal and WHO, as well as lifting the ban on Muslim countries.
Mr Biden has engaged the AU within the third week of his administration, contrasting the disposition to the continent of his predecessor whom the Washington Post quoted in January 2017 to have derogatively branded Haiti and African states as “shithole countries”.
Mr Trump never visited Africa during his four-year tenure and his pro-life administration’s defunding of abortion and other health programmes crippled many organisations on the continent.
In addition, six of the 13 countries on Mr Trump’s travel ban or restricted travel list — Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, Eritrea, Tanzania and Libya — are from Africa.
Mr Biden lifted the ban, which he called a “moral blight”, on the day of his swearing-in and his administration has separately announced fresh funding for multiple women health and rights programmes, and promotion of rights of all, including gays, lesbians and transgender people.
In last Friday’s virtual remarks, Mr Biden promised to invest to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic and build capacity to detect, prevent, and respond to future health emergencies .
Original Source: Daily Monitor
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