Pavel Sulyandziga and Dante Pesce, United Nations Working Group, during the presentation of their preliminary report. Photo:@Jesús Villaseca.
From August 29 to September 7, two representatives of the Working Group on Business and Human Rights of the UN made an official visit to Mexico: Pavel Sulyandziga, a human rights defender of Russian origin, who currently serves as president of the Working Group, and Chilean Dante Pesce, who has a long history of working with civil organizations both nationally and internationally. The purpose of the visit was, first, to identify cases of damages to individuals, communities and the environment due to business activities. After, to promote respect for human rights on the part of any company implementing the three Guiding Principles of the United Nations on business and human rights. The first principle states that, “the State is responsible to respect, protect and enforce human rights.” The second defines that “companies must comply with the laws made by the state and respect human rights.” The third states that, “Those affected should have access to redress mechanisms.”
Prior to the arrival of the Working Group, more than 100 civil society organizations, groups, communities and academics prepared a report to give an overview of the situation at national level. This coalition documented 68 cases that show serious violations and abuses of human rights by the State and companies from different sectors, and a lack of access to remediation for victims. It shows that the most frequently violated rights are: to land and territory (32 cases), access to information (28 cases) and to a healthy environment (22 cases). The sectors where most abuses were documented were: mining (11 cases), hydrocarbons (9), energy (8), construction (8) and industrial agriculture (6). In addition, more than 50% of cases of intimidation and threats against opponents of business projects were documented.
During their ten-day visit, members of the Working Group went to Mexico City, the States of Mexico, Oaxaca, Jalisco and Sonora, where they held meetings with various actors: officials from the three levels of government; companies like Grupo Bimbo, Grupo Mexico, Cemex, Pemex and CFE; civil society organizations and human rights defenders. They also received 81 testimonies from individuals and representatives of communities affected by various business activities, lack of access to information and consultation and on behalf of victims of violations of labor rights, and victims of serious impact to their health and environment. In Oaxaca, they listened to indigenous communities in the municipalities of El Espinal and Juchitan de Zaragoza affected by wind farm projects, who claim that “the whole consultation process was considered defective, since windmills had already been installed in the region without any prior consultation.” In the State of Mexico, they visited the Otomi-Mexica indigenous community in San Francisco Xochicuautla, opposed to a compulsory purchase order issued in October 2012 without any prior consultation in order to build the Toluca-Naucalpan highway on their land. Despite obtaining a restraining order, the construction of the highway has continued with the approval of state and federal authorities. The representatives of the Working Group reported that the Grupo Higa, builders of the project, never responded to their request for an interview.
On September 7, members of the working group presented a preliminary report on the results of their visit at a press conference. At the conference, Pavel Sulyandziga said: “It became clear that the main concerns about human rights violations linked to business are related to improper exercise of due diligence by the government and companies in the design and implementation of large scale projects. These are mainly projects in the mining, energy, construction and tourism sectors, which often affect indigenous communities. “
Furthermore, the preliminary report addresses challenges regarding labor rights in the country to remedy “the precarious situation of workers hired temporarily, the lack of access to social security, low wages and a minimum wage which is currently below the level [of the cost of] the basic food basket and is not sufficient to allow workers to support themselves and their families”, and “the weak capacity of the labor inspectorate to effectively monitor compliance with labor standards. “
The final report will be submitted in June 2017, at the 35th session of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations Organization. Meanwhile, the Working Group calls on the Mexican Government to “advance transparency, consultation, due diligence and respect for people and the environment” and on companies to “maintain standards of human rights and avoid seeking profit from impunity, corruption and lack of transparency and accountability.” It concluded by saying that there is much to be done to improve the current crisis of human rights in Mexico: “greater efforts are needed to change public policies, practices, mentalities but also to foster a culture of transparency, integrity, ethical behavior and democratic values.”
Para más información:
http://www.proceso.com.mx/452190/onu-verificara-respeto-a-derechos-humanos-en-empresas-gobiernos-mexico ( Proceso, a 24 de agosto de 2016) Visita a México del Grupo de Trabajo sobre Empresas y DDHH: Puntos desde la Sociedad Civil (Asociación Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente (AIDA), a 29 de agosto de 2016)
12 claves sobre la investigación de la ONU a empresas y los derechos laborales en México (Animal político, a 8 de septiembre 2016) Boletín: El Estado mexicano debe cumplir las recomendaciones del Grupo de Trabajo de la ONU sobre empresas y derechos humanos ( Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, a 08 de septiembre 2016)
Deberá acatar México recomendaciones de la ONU sobre empresas y derechos humanos: ONGs (Aristegui Noticias, a 08 de septiembre 2016)
Declaración del Grupo de trabajo de Naciones Unidas sobre empresas y derechos humanos al final de su visita a México Ciudad de México, 7 de septiembre de 2016 ( Oficina del Alto Comisionada de las Naciones Unidad Derechos Humanos, a 09 de septiembre de 2016)
Concluye visita de grupo de trabajo de la ONU en México ( La Jornada, a 17 de septiembre 2016)
Para más información de Sipaz:
Nacional: Xochicuautla obtiene cancelación de la autopista (17 de marzo de 2016)
Oaxaca: Indígenas zapotecos se amparan por violaciones graves al derecho a la consulta (21 de agosto de 2015)