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UN: Brazil must advance business and human rights
UN: Brazil must advance business and human rights

[JURIST] Brazil must place more emphasis on remedying and preventing business-related human rights violations, according to a report [text, PDF] presented Friday by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights [official website]. In its report, the Working Group focused upon several issues affected by business operations within the country, including the displacement of indigenous populations, increased death threats against human rights activists where “their rights are compromised by economic interests,” and failure to effectively address both child and slave labor. While the Working Group noted several state-initiatives directed at remedying these current violations, including the National Program for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and the 1996 Program to Child Labor, it discussed several policies counter-intuitive to human rights in business. Among the most notable of these policies were an attempt by the Senate to weaken the definition of slave labour and an injunction against publishing a “dirty-list.” The Senate [official website] had attempted to remove provisions including “degrading working conditions and exhaustive working hours.” Publication of the “dirty-list,” which listed companies found to be using slave labor in their supply-chain, and banned said companies from gaining government contracts, was suspended in 2014 by the president of the Supreme Court’s [official website] injunction, which is currently facing challenges by several human rights organizations. Brazil will likely continue to face publicized challenges to human rights violations on the cusp of the 2016 Olympics, set for this summer.

Large business ventures have been an issue in Brazil in recent history. Brazil recently filed a lawsuit against several mining companies [JURIST report] in relation to a dam collapse earlier last year, which killed 19 people and polluted a vast 400 miles of the Rio Doce basin. In March a UN Special Rapporteur stated that while Brazil has made strides in protecting indigenous peoples, it has not gone far enough [JURIST report] to prevent ousting of indigenous peoples from their land. Brazil is also one among many countries that have been urged by the UN [JURIST report] to remedy human rights violations arising out of the Paris Agreement, signed during the COP21.