On Thursday, April 20, 2017 a federal jury returned a verdict in the first of the test trials against DynCorp International, the defense contractor that did the aerial fumigations in Plan Colombia. The International Rights Advocates (IRAdvocates) first filed this case in 2001 on behalf of over 2,000 Ecuadoran farmers who live near the border with Colombia and allege that they had their farms destroyed when the toxic chemicals used by DynCorp to kill coca and poppy plants was also sprayed on their farms. The Ecuadoran farmers also alleged that they received personal injuries and suffered battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
After a 15-year legal battle, a U.S. jury will begin deliberations Wednesday over whether a U.S. security contractor must pay damages to as many as 2,000 Ecuadoran farmers who say they were poisoned by the U.S. and Colombian governments’ years-long, coca-eradication campaign.
Defense contractor DynCorp and plaintiffs suing it for allegedly poisoning farmers in Ecuador with herbicide while trying to eradicate drug crops in Colombia sparred in midtrial briefs filed in Washington, D.C., federal court Sunday over whether the company could be held liable for actions of pilots employed by subcontractors and Colombian police.
On April 3, 2017, International Rights Advocate's trial commenced in Quinteros v. Dyncorp, an historic 15-year old human rights case concerning the harmful effects of Defendant Dyncorp's spraying of our Ecuadoran Plaintiffs and their property in Ecuador, during their efforts to eradicate coca crops as part of Plan Colombia.
On April 3, 2017, after a 15-year struggle with the notorious defense contractor, DynCorp International, International Rights Advocates, together with co-counsel Ted Leopold of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, will go to trial on behalf of more than 2,000 Ecuadoran plaintiffs at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to establish that when DynCorp implemented Plan Colombia, it unlawfully invaded Ecuadoran territory and fumigated thousands of farmers and ruined their farms.
International Rights Advocates (www.iradvocates.org) is a small human rights advocacy group that promotes corporate accountability through legal advocacy. We focus on human rights cases and rely on individual donations and support from foundations to continue our work. After a 15-year struggle with the notorious defense contractor DynCorp International, we are going to trial on April 3, 2017 to establish that when DynCorp was implementing Plan Colombia, it unlawfully invaded Ecuadoran territory and fumigated thousands of farmers there and ruined their farms. We have been in this struggle since we filed the case on September 11, 2001, and to finally bring DynCorp to justice, we need your support.
On March 10, 2017, Judge Wilson issued an Order granting defendants' motion to dismiss.
"Judge Wilson's decision, which states that business conduct such as the provision of unrestricted funds to those committing slavery cannot be illegal, directly contradicts not only international law but also the Ninth Circuit's prior decision in this case. The Ninth Circuit has made clear that knowingly contributing to the enslavement of others for profit is an international crime whether committed by individuals or corporations."
IRA will appeal.
Colombia’s prosecution is set to charge almost 200 companies, including multinationals like Dole and Del Monte, for financing death squads in the banana-growing region of the country, according to Blu Radio. The radio station reported contents of the alleged set of indictments a day after the country’s chief prosecutor announced his office would charge companies for crimes against humanity for their alleged voluntary support for the paramilitary death squads.
Companies who financed paramilitary death squads in Colombia’s banana growing region, including Chiquita’s subsidiary, will face charges for crimes against humanity, the Prosecutor General’s Office said Thursday. The prosecution decision is unprecedented as never before have private enterprises been charged with crimes against humanity.
Multinational companies have benefited as paramilitaries have violently evicted thousands of people from their land, clearing the way for large-scale mining, oil or agro-industrial projects. These companies are knowingly operating in a country where death squads suppress dissent by targeting community activists and trade unionists...There is almost total impunity for the security forces and their paramilitary allies who target land activists and community leaders and those who have protested against large-scale mining, oil and agro-industrial projects.
His former company is being sued for its alleged role in unprovoked shootings and arbitrary detention of Indonesian people.
The former Exxon Mobile CEO spent his entire adult life working for a company that has left a trail of carnage - from human rights abuses to the destruction of the environment - in its ruthless pursuit of oil.
Six men forced into slavery as boys to harvest cocoa pods have a second chance to go after some of the world's biggest chocolate companies in U.S. court, saying the companies should have known their suppliers used forced labor.
Terry Collingsworth, Executive Director of International Rights Advocates and lawyer representing six alleged child slaves working in cocoa in a class action against Nestlé, ADM and Cargill says the ramifications of the case on the chocolate industry could be huge.
On November 29, 2016, a federal court in Florida issued a long-awaited ruling denying Chiquita’s last effort to have the case dismissed brought by thousands of Colombian nationals who sued Chiquita for funding the AUC paramilitary units that murdered their family members.
Human rights defenders and families of victims are one step closer to justice for Colombian labor leaders and other activists murdered at the hands of right-wing paramilitaries paid by U.S. banana giant Chiquita Brands as a U.S. court gave the green light Wednesday for the trial to move forward against the company and its top executives.
Company's corporate affairs manager writes in response to NOW article that "child labour in our cocoa supply chain is a complex issue"
On November 7, 2016, International Rights Advocates together with lead co-counsel filed their Memorandum in Opposition to Defendants' Motions to Dismiss in the Nestle case arguing plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged that all three of the corporate Defendants in the Nestle case aided and abetted slavery and forced labor in Côte d’Ivoire.
Two publicly-owned heating plants in north Jutland and Funen have been burning coal from the controversial US-owned mining company in Colombia, Drummond. Drummond has been accused of supporting paramilitary groups in Colombia and being behind thousands of murders and the displacement of some 60,000 people.
To read more, see this article from Christian W. posted on The Copenhagen Post Online on October 28, 2016 here: http://cphpost.dk/news/danish-heating-plants-accused-of-using-colombian-...
On September 27, 2016, in Melo et al. v. Drummond Company Inc. et al., Case No 16-10921, the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed in part and affirmed in part the District Court’s dismissal of claims brought by the heirs of 34 decedents they allege were murdered by members of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (“AUC”) who were collaborating with Drummond. The case alleges that Drummond aided and abetted the AUC by providing it with significant financial support, logistical assistance, supplies and a safe haven so that the AUC would defeat FARC guerillas operating around Drummond’s coal mine and railroad line in Cesar Province, Colombia. The complaint alleges that Drummond in effect sided with the AUC in its violent war against the FARC and joined in the AUC’s war crimes and extrajudicial killings. The Colombian Plaintiffs welcome the renewed prospect of holding the Drummond Defendants accountable for their role in the brutal murders of Plaintiffs’ loved ones.
Coca Cola is one of more than 50 companies facing terrorism support charges in Colombia. Among those companies are Chiquita and Drummond, both of which International Rights Advocates are actively litigating in US courts for their involvement in human rights violations in Colombia.
To read more, see here: http://colombiareports.com/coca-cola-facing-terrorism-support-charges-co...
After it was determined in June 2016 that the court in the Southern District of Florida lacked personal jurisdiction in the Chiquita case, a hearing will take place before the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation at the end of September 2016 to determine whether our case is to be transferred back to the US District Court for DC.
"It may be unthinkable that the chocolate we enjoy could come from the hands of children working as slaves. In the Ivory Coast alone, there are an estimated 200,000 children working the fields, many against their will, to create the chocolate delicacies enjoyed around the world." - CNN, January 16, 2012
"For a decade and a half, the big chocolate makers have promised to end child labor in their industry — and have spent tens of millions of dollars in the effort. But as of the latest estimate, 2.1 million West African children still do the dangerous and physically taxing work of harvesting cocoa. What will it take to fix the problem?" - Brian O'Keefe, Fortune, March 1, 2016
Press Release in John Doe I, et al. v. Nestle USA, Inc., et al.
Contact: Paul Hoffman, Schonbrun Seplow Harris & Hoffman LLP
Terry Collingsworth, Executive Director, International Rights Advocates firstname.lastname@example.org; 202-543-5811/202-255-2198
Catherine Sweetser, Schonbrun Seplow Harris & Hoffman LLP
"For over twenty years, and with the support of the United States, the Colombian government has sprayed a powerful herbicide called Roundup on illegal coca crops. But this chemical, produced by Monsanto, is reported to be a danger to both people’s health and the environment." - France24
Reporters investigated the effects of this spraying in this short documentary video: http://www.france24.com/en/20150508-reporters-colombia-drug-trafficking-....
Following the Ninth Circuit's decision in Doe v. Nestle, International Rights Advocates is now making plans to get back to Cote D’Ivoire to continue our investigation and meet with additional children who have been forced to harvest cocoa for the many multinational companies who continue to profit from child slavery.
International Rights Advocates won a victory this week when the U.S. Supreme Court allowed claims against Nestle, Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill to go forward. The plaintiffs are former victims of child slavery, who worked on cocoa farms in Mali. IRAdvocates Executive Director Terrence Collingsworth welcomes the development. "On behalf of current and former child slaves in the cocoa sector in West Africa, the plaintiffs hope their case will help to end this inhumane practice,” he said.
See below for additional coverage and analysis:
Colombian officials arrested Alfredo Araujo, the former Head of Industrial Relations for Drummond, on May 25, 2015, alleging complicity in the murders of two union leaders. These crimes are also the subject of an ATS case brought by IRAdvocates in 2009. Check out these articles for more information.
By Angela Chen, American University Washington College of Law, JD candidate 2016