The mining companies Drummond and Prodeco/Glencore have a unique opportunity to contribute to reconciliation with the victims of violence in the mining region and peace in Colombia. That is potentially good news for the fight against ‘blood coal’. PAX has sent an open letter to the mining companies urging them to seize this opportunity wholeheartedly.
A partial agreement was reached a few weeks ago in the peace talks in Colombia on a legal framework for transitional justice, i.e. a special judicial system to support the peace process. Anyone who took part in the conflict, whether directly or indirectly, may be called upon to speak openly about what happened in front of a tribunal or a truth commission. This will probably also apply to companies that were indirectly involved in war crimes. That makes this partial agreement very important in the fight against blood coal. According to various sworn witness statements, the mining companies Drummond and Glencore supported illegal paramilitary groups in the Cesar mining region with money and strategic information between 1996 and 2006. During this period, at least 3100 people were killed and 55,000 people driven off their land. To date, the victims have received no recognition or reparations for what they suffered. Many victims who attempt to assert their rights are subjected to intimidation.
Support the peace process
In view of the process of reconciliation with the victims, PAX has sent the mining companies Drummond and Glencore a letter asking them to give their public support to the peace process in Colombia and to endorse the importance of establishing the truth, providing reparations and the guarantee that there will never be a repeat of the violence of the past. PAX also calls upon the companies to cooperate with an exploratory investigation by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights looking at possible starting points for a dialogue between the victims of paramilitary violence and the mining sector.
While waiting for the details of the transitional justice framework to be worked out, the peace organisation urges the mining companies to work too on improving their relationship with the victims of violence in the mining region. PAX therefore calls on the management of the mining companies to initiate a dialogue with representatives of the victims and listen to their accounts of their experiences. The companies are also urged to explicitly condemn the intimidation of victims in the mining region.
Dutch energy companies
The Dutch energy companies Eon, Electrabel, Essent, Delta and Nuon, all of which buy coal from Drummond and Glencore, have drawn up an action plan in which they call on the mining companies to take part in a reconciliation dialogue with the victims. So far, this plan has not spurred the mining companies to take action.
PAX sincerely hopes that the mining companies will now wholeheartedly seize the opportunities offered by the peace process and thereby actively contribute to peace, reconciliation and reparations after all.