The Amsterdam City Council wants the Port to work on banning blood coal. On Wednesday 30 March, a large majority of City Councillors expressed their concerns about the presence of Colombian coal in the Amsterdam Port, and requested the Amsterdam Municipal Executive to take steps to address the human rights problems in the coal supply chain.
Amsterdam is the second largest European port after Rotterdam for the transhipment of coal. Approximately thirty percent of that coal is mined in Colombia. The Port consequently forms a link in the blood coal supply chain: coal originating from mining companies that have been involved in serious human rights violations.
The PAX report 'The Dark Side of Coal' investigating this involvement triggered questions from a number of the political parties within the Council concerning the part played by the Amsterdam Port in this supply chain. During this high-profile investigation perpetrators and witnesses declared under oath that between 1996 and 2006 the mining companies Drummond and Prodeco provided financial and strategic support to paramilitary groups operating in the Cesar mining region. During that period at least 3,100 people were murdered and 55,000 farmers were driven from their land. The victims and their descendants have never received any form of remedy or compensation. In the meantime, however, mining and energy companies have earned extortionate sums from the mining, transportation and burning of this conflict raw material.
Reparation for victims
On Wednesday March 30 the Council passed a motion proposed by members from Groenlinks, CDA, PvdA and SP, in which the wish is expressed that Dutch companies involved in the Colombian coal supply chain observe the international guidelines set for corporate social responsibility. These include, among others, energy companies, transhipment companies and the Port itself. The explicite aim is that concrete and demonstrable steps are taken towards providing remedy to the victims of gross human rights violations in the Colombian mining region of Cesar, which essentially means putting an end to blood coal.
The international guidelines which the political party members refer to in their motion prescribe that in the absence of any reparations for the victims, the companies concerned must stop procurement pending tangible improvements.. Given that the victims have been waiting for over ten years for remedy and the mining companies thus far have failed to adopt a constructive approach, PAX feels that it is high time that companies in the coal supply chain impose a temporary import ban on coal from Cesar. Pax's campaign leader, Wouter Kolk: 'This powerful message from the Amsterdam City Council shows solidarity with the victims in Colombia. It is now the task of Dutch energy companies to ban blood coal, both in word and deed.'