The Swedish energy company Vattenfall has concluded an investigation into the human rights impact associated with coal mining in Colombia. PAX accompanied the investigators for part of their mission and witnessed first-hand their good, critical questions and that they allocated sufficient time for a thorough inquiry.
PAX now looks forward to a proposal for how the energy and mining companies can move forward with compensating the victims of ´blood coal´ in Colombia.
Fulfilling a promise
Two employees from Vattenfall spent three weeks in Colombia, including one week in the mining region of Cesar. The trip fulfilled a promise the COO of Vattenfall’s Dutch subsidiary Nuon made on Dutch television that the company would investigate the human rights impact surrounding coal mining in Colombia.
Together with Amsterdam local councillor Jasper Groen, PAX International Advocacy Campaigner Maina van der Zwan spent a week with the investigators. “Vattenfall spoke with the government authorities and the mining companies, but also with victims of the grave human rights violations and activists who are still being threatened to this day,” says Van der Zwan. “They were well prepared, with an extensive programme, and they asked good, critical questions. We’re quite pleased that Vattenfall has conducted its own investigation. Through its subsidiary Nuon, Vattenfall imports blood coal into the Netherlands. It’s the only energy company in the Dutch market to investigate these abuses."
The next step
The question remains whether Vattenfall will follow-up the investigation with concrete demands for the mining companies to improve the plight of the victims. PAX expects to see a step-by-step plan geared toward a dialogue between the victims and the mining companies, with compensation as the goal. In addition, the mining companies need to combat the current violence and threats of violence in the mining region.
If Vattenfall makes these demands and applies economic pressure, it will be clear that they take corporate social responsibility seriously. PAX urges the other European energy companies – including RWE, EnBW and Uniper – to follow Vattenfall’s lead and conduct their own investigations.
Natural Resources, Conflict & Human Rights, Colombia