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In a previous show we discussed the lawsuit Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, a case pushing to hold corporations accountable for human rights violations. We talk today about a similar case. Recently a Columbian Trade Union filed charges against the Swiss company Nestle and members of its senior management. They are accused of failing to take precautionary measures for the 2005 murder of Luciano Romero. Romero was murdered by paramilitaries in Valledupar, a north eastern part of Columbia. His body was found with 50 stab wounds. Romero worked for a the Columbian Nestle subsidiary company Cicolac. Cicolac is accused of being negligent in failing to prevent this crime.
- We are presenting cases against European Transnationals who are involved in human rights violations.
- One of our targets is Nestle’s, Switzerland whom we try to hold accountable for an assassination of a Columbian Trade Unionist Luciano Romero in 2005.
- The Nestle subsidiary was very close to the paramilitary.
- Columbia has a record of killing over 2000 trade unionists over the last 20 years.
- The solidarity movement here in Switzerland was very active of the defense of the threatened trade unionists. They were threatened over years, some of them had to go into exile, some of them moved within Columbia.
- What we accused them of is negligent killing through omission.
- If you go into a conflict region and if you link with one of the conflict parties, you can be held accountable.
- The companies have the duty of due diligence. You have the task to take a human rights risk assessment. Then you have as a mother company, you have a role to play for your subsidiaries.
- That’s why we presented the case here in Switzerland, we’re not only talking about the murder in 2005, we’re also talking about future responsibilities of transnational companies.
- That’s why the whole complaint here, got huge media coverage.
- The managers who we are suing live in Switzerland, and are Swiss citizens.
- We want the prosecutor in Switzerland to undertake an investigation.
- In Columbia there is no real possibility to sue a transnational company, but this is why the Swiss judges and prosecutors have to act right now.
- The spectacle in the German and Swiss media helped us put the problems on the table.
- Havard Professor was appointed by the UN to elaborate principles to regulate the behavior of transnational companies and human rights. The principles are very general.
- The prosecutor got quite a difficult criminal complaint. He has to decide in the next weeks or months to open this criminal procedure.
- Nestle did the other way around, because they didn’t like the trade unionists. They were an obstacle.
Guest – Attorney Wolfgang Kaleck, General Secretary and co-founder of ECCHR, specializing in criminal law, he has established an international reputation as an advocate for human rights. He made a name for himself when he filed suit against the U.S. Defense Minister Donald Rumsfeld for war crimes and torture committed at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.
We’ve covered a wide range of stories involving the FBI spying on Muslim students and using undercover agents at mosques. Last month, news of this spying had broke into the mainstream news. The New York Police Department’s ongoing surveillance operations of Muslims across the Northeast has exposed a broad spectrum of civil rights violations. Documents recently obtained by the Associated Press reveal the NYPD built databases showing where Muslims live, buy food, and where they watch sports. The NYPD municipal spy operations spilled out of New York City and reached into New Jersey, Long Island and to colleges across the Northeast.
- This program amounts to a comprehensive and warrant-less and invasive surveillance program of all Muslim life.
- Not just here in New York City but now we have reports of cops going down to UPenn in Philadelphia.
- Up to Yale in New Haven, Albany and Buffalo. It’s even worse than that. NYPD officers out in North Africa and Europe.
- This is one of the worse things I’ve seen is people being scared out of their public activities. I think there’s a fear of speaking publicly about things.
- We’re hearing reports of a network of up to 15 thousand informants feeding information to the NYPD.
- One of the earliest documents that came out was a powerpoint presentation from the NYPD called the demographics unit. The third or fourth slide in this document is titled “ancestries of interest.”
- Anyone who is trying to make the argument, “they’re trying to protect us” they need to see this slide.
- It’s human mapping, community mapping, modeled off of how Israelis operate in the West Bank.
- It’s essentially Muslim until proven innocent.
- The documents are there, they’re online, we’ve seen them for ourselves. I would love to put Mayor Bloomberg in front of the power point presentation of the demographics unit and let him justify that.
- They’ll trot out pictures of terrorists and say this is what we’re keeping you safe from .
- You’re really in danger of honey bees than from a terrorist attack
- And don’t let the NYPD tell you that that’s because they’re spying on Muslim students from Philadelphia to New Haven because that’s not the case.
- There’s maybe two cases where the FBI was not the primary planner of that attack.
- Within 200 miles of New York City, the NYPD are sending people just a shocking number of informants and sometimes undercover officers culling political speech, political activity, hearing what people are talking about.
- So they’re watching everything they can, and anyone who is expressing some anger.
- Watching for raising a dissenting voice, that’s what the rakers were.
- Mosque crawlers played a similar role.
- Rakers is a more general term for the invasion, infiltration.
- We’re lucky that this got discovered.
- The involvement of the CIA is very interesting. David Cohen from the CIA who came to the NYPD after 9/11. Sometimes they refer to him as a former CIA agent. I’m not sure that’s a type of club you can leave.
- There are other CIA agents that were on CIA payroll but were posted in the NYPD.
- Later, the CIA actually removed the officers that were in the NYPD because of a lack of supervision, they called it.
- When you see these people lining up to defend this, you have to wonder why.
- They’re using the fear of us to get to your rights.
- It’s really amazing the assumptions of power that the government has justified with the war on terror.
Guest – Cyrus McGoldrick, Civil Rights Manager with the Council on American-Islamic Relations-New York