July, 30

Cerrejón rejects allegations in global witness report of links to threats on human rights defenders

In view of the recent publication of the report “Defending Tomorrow: The climate crisis and threats against land and environmental defenders” by the NGO Global Witness, which provides information on the situation of human rights defenders worldwide, Cerrejón strongly rejects insinuations about the company’s possible links with threats to defenders in La Guajira. Like Global Witness, the company is also greatly concerned about the alarming numbers of threats and attacks on leaders around the world, especially in Colombia, but regrets that this organization has limited itself to reproducing information from other sources without verifying and contrasting the information with Cerrejón, in the end delivering a report that is unbalanced and lacks objectivity.

Cerrejón has long been implementing human rights due diligence processes that include rejecting violence against leaders and alerting authorities to threats when we become aware of them. With regard to these threats, we have strengthened our processes and protocols to provide accompaniment to people when threatened, if they so wish. We always request that local and national authorities carry out investigations to define measures to prevent these situations, while also insisting on investigations and the prosecution of those responsible. Along with other coal-producing companies, the national government and civil society organizations, we signed a public statement in June 2018 rejecting these threats and attacks, and we designed a protocol that clarifies the roles of companies and the authorities in these cases. This protocol has been in place since October 2018 and has been shared with various actors as well as with High Representatives from the United Nations, such as former Special Rapporteur Michel Forst and the current Special Rapporteur Mary Lawlor.

Likewise, we have promoted and been present at two meetings of the Ministry of the Interior’s Timely Action Plan, which took place with Guajiran authorities and social leaders (October 2019 and July 2020). This Plan aims to strengthen awareness on existing ways to receive attention and promotes dialogue between leaders and those authorities in charge of protecting the life and personal integrity of the defenders. We also currently have an agreement with the NGO CREER (a branch of the Institute for Human Rights and Business in London) to do a project aimed at increasing trust among different stakeholders in the territory and to strengthen the ability of the authorities and the community to deal with violence against leaders.

At Cerrejón, we respect different viewpoints on our performance, recognize and value the role of leaders in the territory, and seek, by means of constructive dialog, to resolve the differences that may arise on these issues in regard to our management.

We invite Global Witness to a constructive dialogue, to learn first-hand about how we manage the situation of violence against leaders in La Guajira, and we are open to listening to suggestions for improvement, all with the hope that in future statements the organisation has information from the various sources cited that will provide a more accurate reflection of the reality of this situation.