New report reveals how UK companies get away with human rights abuses overseas as Parliamentary Inquiry is launched

Monday 4 May 2009, by The Corporate Responsibility (CORE) Coalition

UK companies that have committed human rights abuses overseas far too often get away with it, a new report launched today (1 May) reveals.

Reviewing examples from Kenya, India, Bangladesh, Georgia and Nigeria. the report, entitled “The Reality of Rights: Barriers to accessing remedies when business operates beyond borders”, finds that in cases of alleged human rights violations, systemic failures have too often led to victims not receiving adequate redress.

Although previous research in this area has highlighted legal obstacles to victims seeking justice, this is the first comprehensive study of the very real political, social and economic obstacles that prevent victims receiving adequate remedy.

The report’s key findings include:

• Governments’ desire to attract foreign investment undermines their protection of the rights of those affected by the investment;

• A serious lack of trust in the independence of legal systems undermines victims’ desire to pursue claims; 

• Victims are pressured not to act and those that still want to often can’t afford to.

The report concludes that the UK Government has a responsibility to ensure UK companies do not continue to get away with violating human rights abroad. A new UK Commission on Business, Human Rights & The Environment is proposed to provide guidance to companies on what standards they must adhere to when operating abroad, and act as a forum for hearing and resolving allegations of infringements.

The findings of this report will be submitted to The Joint Committee on Human Rights, who have just launched an Inquiry into Business and Human Rights (deadline for submissions today, 1 May).

Hannah Ellis, Coordinator of The Corporate Responsibility (CORE) Coalition said:

“Too many UK companies are breaching human rights when they operate abroad Our report reveals why so many companies continue to get away with it.

“The Government has no excuse not to act now. We believe the solution is a new UK Commission for Business, Human Rights & The Environment. We hope it will be discussed urgently by the Government..”

Mary Robinson, President of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative and former President of Ireland, who contributed the foreword to the new report, said:

“The innovative approach this report puts forward is a significant contribution to ongoing debates which should be taken seriously by governments and businesses committed to responsible action at home and abroad.”

For more information, please contact: • The Corporate Responsibility (CORE) Coalition: Hannah Ellis. +44 (0) 207 566 1601. +44 (0)7952 876 929 Hannah.ellis@corporate-responsibility.org http://www.corporate-responsibility.org. • The London School of Economics and Political Science: Sue Windebank. + 44 (0) 20 7849 4624 S.Windebank@lse.ac.uk http://www.lse.ac.uk

Download the report: The Reality of Rights: Barriers to accessing remedies when business operates beyond borders

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