Article by PBI-Canada
Photo: On February 26, 2020, PBI-Mexico accompanied ProDESC at a media conference relating to the Gunaa Sicarú wind farm megaproject.
On October 13, a media release from the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) highlights that ProDESC, Unión Hidalgo and the ECCHR have filed a civil suit in Paris urging the energy giant Electricité de France (EDF) to suspend the Gunaa Sicarú wind park megaproject until it complies with France’s duty of vigilance law.
ProDESC is a member of the Focal Group of Civil Society on Business and Human Rights (Focal Group) that PBI-Mexico has accompanied since 2015.
The media release further explains that EDF plans to build a wind farm on the land of the Mexican indigenous community Unión Hidalgo which has not been appropriately consulted about the use of their land – a clear violation of their rights.
The megaproject would install 96 wind turbines over 4,400 hectares of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region in the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico.
ProDESC lawyer Guillermo Torres says: “It is important that the company stops negotiating land leasing contracts and requesting relevant licenses and permissions for its project without the community’s prior and informed consent.”
He adds: “By influencing the consultation and offering incentives to individual supporters of the project, EDF and its Mexican subsidiary caused violence to escalate in Unión Hidalgo. Consequently, threats against and attacks on human rights and land rights defenders are increasing. We urge EDF to take measures to prevent further attacks on Unión Hidalgo human rights defenders.”
The French corporate duty of vigilance law establishes a legally binding obligation for parent companies to identify and prevent adverse human rights and environmental impacts resulting from their own activities.
The Guardian has previously reported: “The situation for defenders [in Mexico has been] exacerbated by energy reforms in 2013, since when scores of renewable energy mega-projects have been imposed on rural and indigenous communities without adequate consultation or compensation. …The violence has been particularly marked in the biodiverse isthmus of Tehuantepec – a narrow land mass between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean where 28 mega wind farms now generate electricity.”
The PBI-Mexico briefing paper Wind Farms and Concerns about Human Rights Violations in Oaxaca has highlighted that: “Throughout 2013, Peace Brigades International observed with concern an increase in the level of violence in the context of wind farms, particularly against [human rights defenders] and community leaders whose work involves the defence of those affected by these developments.”
The full ECCHR media release can be read here.