NEWS RELEASE: First-ever recipient of Human Rights and Business Award named
Human Rights and Business Award Foundation
26 November 2018, Geneva
Today it was announced that Justiça nos Trilhos will receive the new Human Rights and Business Award, accompanied by a $50,000 grant.
Justiça nos Trilhos is an organization working closely with local communities in remote parts of Brazil – including indigenous peoples, peasants, and Afro-descendants – to address human rights and environmental abuses by mining and steel companies, in particular the multinational Vale.
Mining and steel companies have polluted the rivers on which these people depend for drinking water and their livelihoods, polluted the air causing respiratory and eyesight problems, contaminated the soil with industrial waste, displaced communities, and decimated the cultures and lives of indigenous peoples.
The board members of the Human Rights and Business Award Foundation – Christopher Avery, Regan Ralph and Valeria Scorza – said in a joint statement today: “We launched this annual award to recognize ‘outstanding work by human rights defenders addressing the human rights impacts of business’. Justiça nos Trilhos epitomizes such a group, working rigorously and conscientiously over many years in challenging circumstances – always in close collaboration with the local communities whose fundamental rights they seek to protect.”
The human rights defenders of Justiça nos Trilhos, and the local communities they work with, have been subjected to surveillance and retaliatory lawsuits by Vale.
The award will be presented to Justiça nos Trilhos on 27 November 2018 in Geneva, at the United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights. Danilo Chammas, a lawyer at Justiça nos Trilhos, will accept the award for the organization. Chammas has commented: “We work to reinforce the principle of human rights, which is at its core the principle of democracy. But I think we still have a long way to go. There is still a lot to do to provide real opportunities for access to justice to those whose rights are violated by these companies.”
Alexandra Montgomery, the member of the foundation’s Advisory Network who nominated Justiça nos Trilhos for the award, commented: “The day-to-day operations of Vale’s projects in Carajas have harmed more than 100 communities….Justiça nos Trilhos’ work is done in a very solid and organized fashion, accessing legal mechanisms, researching, and closely strategizing and measuring their actions. They work with university centers and professionals who research and analyze the data. The claims that they make are not spontaneous, they are grounded in the experiences of the communities.”
About the Foundation
The Human Rights and Business Award Foundation is an independent non-profit foundation. The foundation is launching its website in 7 languages today. To ensure its independence, the foundation does not accept donations from any government or any company. The foundation’s Board members and Advisory Network members are listed here. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
More About Justiça nos Trilhos:
These reports provide further information about Justiça nos Trilhos – the first includes links to mining company Vale’s responses to the issues raised:
- “Confronting asymmetrical power: Empowering Brazil’s rural communities to assert their legal rights & challenge corporate impunity – Interview with Danilo Chammas – lawyer and activist for Justiça nos Trilhos”, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Mar 2015.
- “BRAZIL: How much are human rights worth in the Brazilian mining and steel industry?” FIDH, Justiça Global and Justiça nos Trilhos, 2011.
The Justiça nos Trilhos website (Portuguese-language only) is here.
Photo credits: Marcelo Cruz (4 photos at top), Justiça nos Trilhos (2 photos at bottom)