Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Lilianne Ploumen has for the first time said she can see the efficacy a temporary halt on the import of Colombian coal by Dutch energy corporations.
Such an import halt would help persuade mining companies in Colombia to recognize and compensate victims of grave human rights abuses. Minister Ploumen also said she will insist that companies implicated in human rights abuses be included in the truth finding and justice process as part of the Colombian peace process.
The Labour Party, D66 and the Socialist Party had earlier asked the minister to support PAX´s campaign for a temporary halt on the purchase of blood coal until decisive steps are taken toward compensating victims. On the day the topic was debated in parliament, PAX activists demonstrated outside the parliament building, calling on consumers to switch to an energy provider that does not import coal from Colombia.
Minister Ploumen said she will ask energy companies to take concrete steps in order to get the mining companies in Colombia to deal with the victims. In so doing, Dutch companies could follow the example of the Danish company DONG Energy. DONG conducted their own research into abuses associated with the Prodeco/Glencore coal mines, and set up a plan of action geared toward, among others, remedy for the victims. DONG stopped purchasing coal from Prodeco/Glencore a year ago, and has vowed not to resume until the mining company agrees to DONG’s plan of action.
DONG’s experience demonstrates that a temporary halt on imports can work as leverage in tackling past human rights abuses. Responding to a question from a Labour Party MP, Minister Ploumen indicated for the first time that measures such as a temporary import halt are a useful means to improve economic leverage.
No less important was Ploumen´s statement regarding the need for multinationals to be part of the truth finding and justice process. She will push the Colombian government to include these companies in the judicial procedures of a potential Peace Tribunal. This would hasten and clarify the process leading to recognition and compensation for the tens of thousands of victims of blood coal.
See Stop Blood Coal