European Parliament turned into a place of commemoration as part of a European campaign calling for corporate accountability.
In a striking visual display activists wearing hazmat suits covered in mud, held candles and signs calling for “Justice for Brumadinho. Rules for Business”. There were speeches by Brazilian activist Marcia Guerra Capanema and European campaigner Sylvia Obregon Quiroz.
The stunt is part of Justice is Everybody’s Business, a European-wide campaign calling for an EU law that holds businesses accountable for human rights violations, wrecking the climate and destroying the environment. It followed six European Parliament committee votes on the EU’s corporate sustainability law proposal this week.
Brumadinho dam tragedy
In January 2019, a dam burst at an iron ore mine near the small Brazilian town of Brumadinho, killing 272 people. Toxic sludge contaminated large sections of the Paraopeba River, poisoning the drinking water of thousands of people. Only four months earlier, the Brazilian subsidiary of German certifier TÜV SÜD confirmed the dam’s safety and did not prevent its subsidiary from issuing the required dam stability declaration, despite known safety risks. This disaster continues to serve as a tragic example of the consequences of a system that puts corporate profits ahead of people and the environment.
Anya VerKamp, Campaign Coordinator for Justice Is Everybody’s Business said:
“When the German auditor TÜV SÜD certified the mining-waste dam at Brumadinho as ‘safe’, they were committing gross negligence to secure their place in the Brazilian mining sector. The EU needs to oblige corporations to root-out this kind of thinking with strong consequences for corporations.”
Last year, the European Commission released its proposal for a law on corporate sustainability due diligence to oblige large companies in the bloc to risk-assess their global value chains for human rights and environmental issues, and to compensate injured parties. According to a YouGov poll, over 80 percent of citizens from across multiple EU countries want strong laws to hold companies liable for overseas violations.
The draft law also fails to oblige companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and to hold them liable for failing to do so, despite their massive impact on the climate crisis.
- The ‘Justice is Everybody’s Business’ campaign is a coalition of civil society and trade union organisations from Europe and beyond. It is steered by CIDSE, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), the European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ), the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), the Forum Citoyen pour la Responsabilité Sociale des Entreprises, and Friends of the Earth Europe. 100+ organisations support the campaign. For more information about the “Justice is Everybody’s Business” campaign, visit: https://justice-business.org.
- Images from the action at Brussel’s Place du Luxembourg can be found here.
Friends of the Earth Europe gratefully acknowledges financial assistance from the European Commision (LIFE Programme). Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or CINEA. Neither the European Union nor CINEA can be held responsible for them.