GJC Co-Authors Report to IACHR on Remedying Corporate Human Rights Abuses

The Global Justice Clinic and a coalition of civil society organizations led by Conectas co-authored a report, Remedy for Business-Related Human Rights Abuses: Lessons from Emblematic Cases in the Region, for a thematic hearing at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in May 2019 in Jamaica. In July 2019, Derecho, Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (DAR), an NGO in Peru that promotes indigenous rights in the Amazon and one of the co-authors, released a Spanish version of the report which includes a summary of the hearing.

The Global Justice Clinic contributed two case studies to the report on the challenges of ensuring remedy for rights violations committed by companies at the early stages of metal mining activities and those due to abusive deployment of digital surveillance tools against human rights defenders. The first case study focuses on violations of the rights to information and participation in decisions regarding mining in Haiti’s nascent extractive industry. GJC has a longstanding collaboration with the Kolektif Jistis Min, a platform of Haitian social justice organizations, to advance human rights threatened by the development of metal mining in Haiti. In 2015, the Clinic and KJM submitted a brief and later testified at a hearing before the IACHR on access to information challenges in the context of mining, tourism, and the practice of journalism.

The other GJC case study draws on the Clinic’s Commercial Spyware and the Surveillance State project, a joint initiative with the Robert L. Bernstein Institute for Human Rights and Amnesty Tech, a program at Amnesty International. The submission addresses the need to ensure that individuals targeted with commercial spyware—powerful digital surveillance tools that enable governments to turn a person’s cell phone into a pocket spy, recording their data, communications, and location—have access to remedy for violations of their rights to privacy, freedom of opinion and expression. The secrecy surrounding the multi billion–dollar digital surveillance industry complicates efforts to hold accountable the private companies that develop and distribute the software and the government purchasers that misuse it to harass and intimidate dissidents, journalists and other human rights defenders. The difficulty of remedying the chilling effect caused by even the threat of such invasive and nearly undetectable digital surveillance underscores the importance of preventive measures, including robust due diligence, a legal framework that guarantees adherence to the principles of legality, necessity and proportionality, and independent oversight of the industry.


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