22 October 2019, Berlin

Deadly dam collapse in Brazil: Are German companies responsible?

22 October 2019, 7:00 pm
Lindenstraße 85, 10969 Berlin

In January 2019, a dam burst at an iron ore mine near Brumadinho, Brazil, killing more than 270 people. The toxic sludge polluted large sections of the Paraopeba River, poisoning thousands of people's drinking water. Just four months earlier, German auditor TÜV SÜD declared the dam stable.

Who is responsible for these deaths, and for the loss of many livelihoods? The mining company Vale failed to take adequate safety measures. With lax standards and inspections, the Brazilian government may have violated its duty to protect. German companies also played a role: between 2016 and 2018, the ThyssenKrupp Group purchased more than 40 million tons of iron ore from Vale, apparently neglecting to thoroughly assess its Brazilian supplier's human rights and safety standards. Crucially, a TÜV SÜD Brazilian subsidiary confirmed the dam's safety in September 2018, even though the Brazilian public prosecutor's office stated that safety risks were known. The public prosecutor in Brazil is investigating Vale. How can the companies involved be held legally responsible in Germany as well?

This case shows that German companies must be obligated by law to conduct human rights due diligence of their operations abroad. This is the German Human Rights Due Diligence Law Initiative's (Initiative Lieferkettengesetz) demand, supported by 64 civil society organizations, including the European Center for Constitutional Rights (ECCHR) and MISEREOR. The initiative also calls for a binding UN agreement on business and human rights requiring states to enshrine in law that companies must perform human rights diligence.

Speakers include:
Marcela Nayara Rodrigues, whose father was killed when the dam burst
Carolina de Moura Campos, journalist and activist, Asociacão Jangada, Brumadinho
Claudia Müller-Hoff, lawyer and senior legal advisor, ECCHR
Armin Paasch, business and human rights policy advisor, MISEREOR

Moderated by: Johannes Heeg, Initiative Lieferkettengesetz spokesperson

The event will take place in German and Portuguese with simultaneous interpretation.

There will be a livestream in Portuguese on our Facebook pagehttps://www.facebook.com/ecchr.eu/.

Join us for a reception with light food at 6:30 pm and drinks following the discussion.


Please register by 15 October.


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