Flemish singer Axl Peleman and Broederlijk Delen Director Lieve Herijgers presented the 2012 Lenten campaign of CIDSE’s Flemish member organization, which focuses on Guatemala.
Axl Peleman traveled as ambassador of the campaign to Guatemala and told van Rompuy about his experiences: “The mine is poisoning the water of the local population and creates health problems. Protest against mining is criminalized by the authorities.” Peleman also showed a clip with images from Guatemala on the notes of his campaign song ‘Tenemos nuestros planes’.
CIDSE’s Jean Saldanha outlined several areas in which the European Union can intervene to reduce the negative impacts of EU companies operating abroad:
With regard to the criminalization of social protest, the EU has guidelines on human rights defenders, a commitment adopted by all member states in 2004, and revised in 2008. Through its Delegations in Latin America the EU should use its influence and expertise to advance the full implementation of these guidelines. The EU should also systematically monitor legal proceedings against human rights defenders (including through trial observation), visiting human rights defenders in custody. At the highest level EU Foreign Policy should respond publicly to stigmatization of defenders by reaffirming the importance of their work and ensure wide dissemination of these statements through the media.
To protect human rights while promoting investment, European companies investing overseas must be legally required to respect the full range of internationally recognized human rights standards. Companies should be required to report on the human rights risks and impacts of their operations.
The EU should also do all in its power to ensure communities get a fair deal for the profits earned by companies from the exploitation of natural resources on their lands. There is a real opportunity to do so in the form of ongoing negotiations in the Council on the new EU Accounting Directive and Transparency Requirements Directive which include provisions requiring companies engaged in the extractive and forestry sector to report on all payments they make to governments on a country and project basis. This is a valuable first step for communities to find out more information about how much their governments are receiving from mining companies.
In response Van Rompuy promised to raise this issue with the Danish Presidency, stressing upon the necessity of the smooth passing of EU legislation that would require EU companies active in the extractives sector to report on payments to governments per country and per project .
Pictures are available on the website of the Council of the European Union.