A Catholic bishop has urged governments to ensure human rights are given priority in trade and investment by big companies when a UN treaty is developed this autumn.
Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini Imeri of Huehuetenango, Guatemala, participated in a panel debate at the European Parliament in Brussels on 7th March. The event launched a study on trade and human rights by CIDSE, a network of 17 Catholic development agencies in Europe and North America.
Bishop Ramazzini said defense of human rights and the environment was now a “life-threatening issue” in his country, where transnational corporations were committing “abuses with impunity.”
“Local communities have been historically excluded and marginalised by the state, so they lack trust and are apprehensive about the presence of companies in their territories,” Bishop Ramazzini told the meeting.
“Many communities feel they’re not consulted when the state authorises projects by companies, that their needs and concerns are not addressed,” the bishop said.
“This has also resulted in the division of many communities – between those in favour due to their private interests and those who stand against.”
Picture: Workers at an illegal gold mine ride motorcycles through an abandoned mining camp in Tambopata, Peru, on 21st March 2012. (CNS photo/Raul Garcia, EPA).