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Victims should take centre-stage in corporate human rights

Victims should take centre-stage in corporate human rights remedies, UN experts say


NEW YORK (17 October 2017) – Victims seeking redress for corporate human rights abuses are suffering intimidation, harassment, detention and in some cases even murder, a group of UN experts has warned, setting out new proposals to give victims a key role in the processes designed to protect their rights and provide effective remedies.

“The idea is simple: victims must be at the centre of the mechanisms that are meant to provide them access to effective remedy. Yet this is often far from reality,” said Surya Deva, Chairperson of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, presenting the expert group’s report to the UN General Assembly in New York today.

The report, based on real-life obstacles faced by victims, sets out recommendations for States and businesses to ensure that remedial mechanisms are responsive to the diverse experiences and expectations of rights holders.

The report underlines the need to apply a gender lens and consider the question of effective remedies from the perspective of affected individuals and communities. Victims should be able to seek remedies without any fear of further victimization.

“The main responsibility to protect people against victimization rests with States, but businesses should also play their part. They need to ensure that action to defend corporate interests, such as pressing defamation charges, do not discourage people from exercising their right to access remedies,” he added.

The right to an effective remedy is a core tenet of international human rights law and of the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (PDF). States have an obligation to put in place effective remedial mechanisms to investigate, punish and redress business-related human rights abuses. Businesses also have a responsibility to provide and cooperate in remediation when they have caused or contributed to adverse human rights impacts.

The report will also be key to discussions at this year’s UN Forum on Business and Human Rights, which takes place in Geneva, Switzerland, from 27 to 29 November 2017, under the theme of “Realizing Access to Effective Remedy”.

The Forum, the world’s largest gathering on business and human rights, brings together leaders, practitioners and advocates from business, civil society, governments, and international and regional organizations. More than 2,000 participants from 140 countries are expected to attend.

ENDS

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