Conectas presents the research on access to justice for victims of human rights abuses committed by Brazilian companies
On March 31, Conectas Human Rights, Global Business Initiative on Human Rights (GBI), Instituto Ethos, Centro Regional de Apoio para América Latina e Caribe from Pacto Global and Levy & Salomão Advogados organized a roundtable entitled “Human Rights and Business Practices: Understanding the Responsibilities." The objective of this event, held in São Paulo, was to discuss corporate responsibility in ensuring human rights. Over 150 people attended the event, the majority of whom were business leaders.
During the event, Conectas presented the main findings of the research project “Access to Justice in Cases of Human Rights Abuses by Businesses” in 2010, as part of a project led by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ).
On the one hand, the research showed that Brazilian law provides for "quasi-judicial” legal remedies that can be used in cases of human rights violations by companies. However, the use of these mechanisms faces several barriers such as ignorance of rights, litigation costs, delays in the judicial process, the imbalance of power and economic dependence of victims, among other factors, which limit the effectiveness of the available solutions in Brazil.
On the other hand, the research showed that one of the main tactics used in cases involving companies is the Conduct Adjustment Term (Termo de Ajustamento de Conduta -TAC) signed by a Public Prosecutor. However, there is a need for more-detailed assessment of the implementation of these agreements, which will be performed by Conectas in the coming months.
The public became interested in the functioning of the "dirty list" of slave labor, released by the Brazilian Ministry of Labour and Employment. Foreign participants stressed that this mechanism is unique and could serve as a model for other countries to combat the problem.
Another topic of discussion in the meeting was the implementation of the “Principles of Business and Human Rights
,” recently presented by John Ruggie, Special Representative for the topic in the United Nations. These principles are based on three pillars: the State’s duty to protect individuals against violations of human rights, corporate responsibility to respect them, and, finally, the need to expand access to justice for the victims.
The event also promoted the discussion of human rights issues related to specific business sectors through group work. Companies shared their challenges and dilemmas on issues of land rights, forced labor, provision of basic services, and freedom of association, and presented ways to incorporate a respect for human rights into their daily activities.