India, Brazil among the most dangerous places for activists: report

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By Webdesk

Business & Human Rights Resource Center says it has recorded more than 550 attacks against human rights defenders in 2022.

Taipei, Taiwan – India, Cambodia and the Philippines are among the most dangerous places in the world for human rights and labor activists, according to a new report. Protests against corporate abuses often meet with state-sponsored violence.

Brazil topped the list of the most dangerous countries with 63 recorded attacks against activists in 2022, followed by India and Mexico with 54 and 44 attacks respectively, according to the report released Wednesday by the UK’s Business & Human Rights Resource Centre.

Cambodia had 40 recorded attacks, followed by the Philippines and Honduras with 32 and 31 attacks respectively, the report said.

Belarus, Peru, Colombia and Uganda were the next most dangerous countries with between 17 and 28 attacks each.

The Business & Human Rights Resource Center said 75 percent of the more than 550 recorded attacks worldwide were related to people protecting land, climate or environmental rights, and a fifth of the attacks targeted Indigenous activists.

Mining was the most dangerous industry, linked to 165 or 30 percent of attacks.

While the Business & Human Rights Resource Center said it was difficult to identify the perpetrators of the attacks, it was able to link 235 incidents, or 43 percent of cases, to a multinational corporation or its subsidiaries.

India, which will host the G20 summit in September, had the highest number of companies involved in attacks where a company could be identified.

The companies included JSW Steel, one of India’s largest steel and coal producers, whose plans to build a steel plant in the eastern state of Odisha have been opposed by residents since 2018.

Activists said the project threatens the environment and health of residents and threatens to displace traditional industries such as betel farming.

Villagers who protested the plan faced “severe police repression” that has led to the arrest of more than 1,000 residents and activists, the nonprofit said.

The other companies named in the report are UAE-based Otterlo Business Corp, French oil company TotalEnergies, Honduras-based mining company Inversiones los Pinares and Cambodia-based gaming company NagaWorld.

None of the five companies listed immediately responded to requests for comment.

Founded in 2002, the Business & Human Rights Resource Center tracks the activities of more than 10,000 companies worldwide and has recorded 4,700 attacks against activists since 2015.

Christen Dobson, the nonprofit’s senior program manager, said the attacks on activists showed that governments around the world are failing in their duty to protect human rights.

“Defenders are consistently attacked for speaking out about business practices that harm our planet,” Dobson said.

“These are people with a deep understanding of local contexts and human rights and environmental risks, who should see companies as partners in doing business responsibly and tackling the climate crisis.”

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