It's time to tackle corporate abuse of human and environmental rights

We're calling on the UK government to introduce a new Business, Human Rights and Environment Act to hold business to account when it fails to prevent human rights abuses and environmental harm.

If we are to tackle the climate crisis and global poverty around the world, we must address the destruction linked to UK companies.

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Join our campaign to protect people and our common home

Communities we work with around the world are experiencing inequalities and exploitation, and this is linked to the activities of UK companies. This includes:

  • worker exploitation
  • water pollution from industrial activity
  • large-scale deforestation
  • removing people from their land
  • the abuse and killing of human rights and environmental defenders who show resistance.  

We believe this abuse has to stop.

Mining in Colombia
A small stream used for drinking, cooking and washing

“The water is our source of life,” says a member of the indigenous Wayuu community in La Guajira, north-east Colombia.

In La Guajira, Colombia, it has been reported that more than 20 communities have been forcibly displaced or dispossessed as a result of the huge open-pit Cerrejón coal mine. The Wayúu women, who have a deep connection to their land and water, have been deeply impacted, and have reported that more than 17 streams have been redirected or polluted.

The mine was jointly owned by UK-based company BHP and London-listed Anglo American and Glencore until 2021, with Glencore recently taking full ownership. These companies have profited from the mine, but questions have been raised as to whether they have taken sufficient action to deal with these issues. Local communities have complained that the company has failed to fully comply with more than 10 Colombia court rulings, or to heed calls from several prominent UN human rights experts for the mine’s operations to be suspended.

Ask your MP to back a Business, Human Rights and Environment Act

Why current laws aren't enough

While the UK has made some progress in introducing legislation, such as the Modern Slavery Act which was passed in 2015 to ensure more transparency in supply chains, it’s clear that just requiring companies to be transparent isn’t enough to prevent abuse.

The Modern Slavery Act also doesn’t cover many of the impacts business activities have on the communities CAFOD works with, such as mass pollution and attacks on human rights defenders.

Our faith calls us to act

Pope Francis calls on us to strengthen national and international legislation to regulate the activities of companies and provide justice for the people they affect. More than 100 bishops worldwide have called for an end to corporate abuse.

That's why we're urging the UK government to introduce a new Business, Human Rights and Environment Act to hold business to account when it fails to prevent human rights abuses and environmental harm.

"Indigenous communities must be protected from companies, particularly multinational companies, that operate in less developed countries in ways they could never do at home, through the destructive extraction of fossil fuels, minerals, timber and agro-industrial products."

Pope Francis’ message for the World Day of Prayer for Creation 2020

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This new law would make sure that companies act to prevent human rights and environmental abuses happening in the first place - by identifying and taking steps to address the risks to human rights and the environment that their activities pose. 

It doesn’t matter where in the world they operate – businesses based in the UK need to make absolutely sure that they are not putting people's lives and our common home at risk, and they must be held accountable when they are.

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