Montreal, December 10, 2018 – Today, on International Human Rights Day, over 200 organizations from 56 countries around the world have sent a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau asking, “Where is Canada’s Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise?” The Canadian government announced the creation of this office in January 2018, but has yet to appoint anyone to the position. In the meantime, human rights violations related to mining continue to take place around the world.
“Canadians across the country, including thousands of our members, worked for over a decade to convince the Canadian government that a voice for justice for communities affected by Canadian mining companies was needed” said Serge Langlois, Executive Director of Development and Peace. “An independent and effective Ombudsperson should be put in place urgently to ensure that Canadian companies are accountable to the people who have been harmed.”
The Canadian Ombudsperson will be empowered to independently investigate alleged human rights abuses arising from a Canadian company’s operations abroad, and to recommend sanctions, including the withdrawal of government services, such as trade advocacy and Export Development Canada support. Canadian civil society organizations, as well as overseas communities affected by Canadian mining companies, welcomed the announcement of the ombudsperson last January but have been disappointed by the ongoing delays to get the office up and running.
The letter was initiated by Padre Dario Bossi of the Latin American Catholic Church-led network Iglesia y Mineria at the Thematic Social Forum on Mining in Johannesburg, South Africa. Several Development and Peace partners that work with mining-affected communities, including Iglesia y Mineria, participated in the forum, and expressed the urgency for Canada to take action on this promise.
“We, the undersigned activists and organizations, have been working for many years defending the human rights of communities affected by the activities of natural resource extraction companies around the world. We ask you to take action quickly to name the ombudsperson, and to ensure that this office will have the power and resources to independently investigate, report, recommend remedy, and oversee the implementation of remedy for victims of human rights and environmental violations caused by the activities of Canadian mining companies abroad,” states the letter.
To read the letter that was sent to Prime Minister Trudeau today, click below.