Swedwatch and Sierra Leone’s HRDN in joint training on human rights and business

ARTICLE | 20 November 2017

In connection with the launch of the report “No Business, No rights” in Sierra Leone, Swedwatch and local NGO Human Rights Defenders Network (HRDN) arranged a two-day training in Freetown. The purpose of the training was to strengthen the capacity of human rights defenders in monitoring, reporting and conducting research on business-related human rights abuse. Participants were human rights defenders from Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Civil society and human rights defenders play a crucial role in holding companies, investors and governments accountable in cases of business-related human rights abuse.

The training was arranged in line with Swedwatch’s work to strengthen the capacity of human rights defenders in monitoring business operations and to raise awareness on international guidelines such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. It also included practical guidance on how research on company activities can be planned and carried out, including risk assessments for human rights defenders engaging in such research.

Human rights defenders in Sierra Leone, especially those engaged in advocacy work on land rights in relation to business activities, have faced increased threats and attacks during recent years. In 2015 the Human Rights Commission in the country established a business and human rights unit to monitor and report on conflicts between communities and companies.

The human rights commission and civil society are now advocating for a National Action Plan (NAP) on Business and Human Rights to be developed. During the training, group discussions were held where participants mapped the most urgent issues that should be addressed in the NAP.

The training was arranged in connection with the local launch of the report “No Business, No rights“.