To counter injustice with legal interventions – this is the aim and daily work of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights.
ECCHR is an independent, non-profit legal and educational organization dedicated to enforcing civil and human rights worldwide. It was founded in 2007 by Wolfgang Kaleck and other international human rights lawyers to protect and enforce the rights guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as other human rights declarations and national constitutions, through legal means.
Together with those affected and partners worldwide, ECCHR uses legal means to end impunity for those responsible for torture, war crimes, sexual and gender-based violence, corporate exploitation and fortressed borders.
A compromise, but an important step for human rights
Statement by Miriam Saage-Maaß, vice legal director and head of the Business and Human Rights program at the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, on today’s announced agreement on a German mandatory human rights due diligence law (Lieferkettengesetz):
“With this compromise, the German government is finally taking a step, which is long overdue, to protect human rights in global supply chains. But the announced due diligence law must be improved.
We are skeptical about the fact that the law initially only applies to large companies with 3000, later 1000, employees. Small and medium-sized companies, especially those in high-risk sectors such as the textile industry, urgently need to be required to protect human rights. In addition, the law’s strongest language only applies to direct suppliers. Indirect suppliers are included only with weaker measures. The rights of people at the very end of supply chains must also be respected and violations punished. We remain hopeful that the announced obligation for companies to prevent human rights violations will be enforced irrespective of where they occur in supply chains, and that complaint mechanisms for those affected will be strengthened.
We welcome the announced strengthening of the role of NGOs and trade unions in Germany, which will enable them and us to better support those affected in their fight for human rights. Nevertheless, we continue to call for additional civil liability to be anchored in the German supply chain law. Only with it can the law truly benefit those who need it most – workers in the Global South. As a civil society organization, we will continue to do our part to support the implementation of a strong and effective mandatory human rights due diligence law and enforce the rights of those affected.”
Businesses’ conduct, whether by action or omission, can cause, contribute to or be linked with a variety of human rights abuses in their own operations or their business relationships, including global value chains. ECCHR views it as essential that companies be legally obliged to adequately address human rights risks – and for them to be held accountable for possible damages.
In January 2019, a dam burst at an iron ore mine near the small Brazilian town of Brumadinho, killing 272 people. Toxic sludge contaminated large sections of the Paraopeba River, poisoning the drinking water of thousands of people. Only four months earlier, the Brazilian subsidiary of German certifier TÜV SÜD confirmed the dam’s safety, despite known safety risks.
Transnational corporations responsibilities also extend to the working conditions in their subsidiary and supplier companies abroad. This position is supported by survivors and relatives of victims of the fatal fire at the Ali Enterprises textile factory in Karachi. Together with ECCHR, they filed a legal action for compensation against KiK.
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