Myanmar: Ivanhoe Mines' operations must respect human rightsPublished by MAC on 2002-06-15
Myanmar: Ivanhoe Mines' operations must respect human rights
Amnesty International - 18 June 2002 AI Index: AMR 20/C07/2002
In advance of the upcoming Annual General Meeting of Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. in Vancouver on 25 June, Amnesty International has challenged the company to take bold steps to improve the human rights situation in Myanmar. Since 1996 Ivanhoe has engaged in a joint venture, the Monywa Copper Mine, with the country's military government, notorious for its longstanding record of massive human rights violations.
"About 1,500 political prisoners are still being held, while political killings and forced labour continue to be reported in ethnic minority states", notes Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada's English Branch.
Ivanhoe's Statement of Values and Responsibilities endorses the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In public comments the company has stated that its support of human rights is "clear and forthright." Now is the time for action to match those fine statements. At Ivanhoe's AGM, Amnesty International calls on the company to lay down a clear human rights agenda for its operations in Myanmar, with commitments in five key areas:
(1) Agree to adhere to AI's Human Rights Principles for Companies*, including a process of monitoring and publicly reporting on compliance with the principles;
(2) Exercise considerable care with respect to security arrangements made with the military, including public insistence that soldiers comply with international human rights standards and adopting measures to screen out anyone responsible for human rights abuses in the past;
(3) Develop a meaningful and thorough process of community consultation about plans for expansion in Myanmar coupled with a mechanism that ensures benefits, involving royalties, flow through to the entire local community, and not just military middlemen and local elites;
(4) Adopt a method for providing ongoing reports of compliance with relevant International Labour Organization standards, including those dealing with forced labour, child labour and freedom of association; and
(5) Provide a voice for human rights reform in Myanmar, including by raising concerns publicly and with the government regarding the continuing detention of numerous prisoners of conscience and concerns about the treatment of ethnic minorities (including the Chin, who reside in the region where Ivanhoe operates).
If Ivanhoe chooses to do business with a government such as the one in power in Myanmar, it must act scrupulously to ensure it is part of the solution and not part of the problem. "Human rights are central to the solution in Myanmar", says Neve. "Ivanhoe must match its professed principles with its practice and put human rights at the centre of its operations."
* Amnesty International's Human Rights Principles for Companies can be reviewed at http://www.amnesty.ca/business/checklist.htm
For further information please contact Charles Conteh Media Relations Assistant (613) 744-7667 #228