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25 Jan 2022

Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders

UN Special Rapporteur calls for inclusion and protection of human rights defenders through mandatory due diligence legislation

"Including Human Rights Defenders in the EU Directive on mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence for companies: key points and practical examples", 24 Jan 2022

Human rights defenders are vital to ensuring corporate respect for human rights and the healthy environment that many rights rely on... However, human rights defenders all over the world, including women and indigenous human rights defenders, face retaliation when raising human rights and environmental concerns connected with corporate activity, including within the value chains of EU companies... linked to logging, mining, large-scale agribusiness, hydroelectric dams and other infrastructure projects... Human rights defenders will be vital partners for the EU and its Member States in monitoring compliance with the proposed EU Directive [and yet] will run the highest risk of retaliation when raising concerns about these same negative impacts... Directive would be greatly strengthened by the inclusion of the following vital provisions: 1) The inclusion of human rights defenders as named stakeholders,... 2) A negative obligation on EU companies and those accessing the internal market to refrain from retaliation,... 3) A positive obligation on EU companies and those accessing the internal market to prevent retaliation... through identification, assessment, prevention and/or mitigation of risks of retaliation against... defenders as part of a company's due diligence obligations,... 4) The provision of criminal liability in cases where EU companies... have caused, or can reasonably be deemed to have contributed to, severe retaliation against... defenders,... 5) The provision of civil liability for damages,... [and]... 6) The request for Member States to extend legal protection for sources, as already afforded to journalists in many jurisdictions1 , to... defenders...