HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL – 39TH SESSION

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September 24th, 2018, 15:00-16:00 (Room XXVII), Palais des Nations, Geneva
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Side Event: Bitter sugar in the Dominican Republic: the sugar industry and human rights

Context: Together with tourism, sugar production is one of the major industries and one of the biggest sources of employment in the Dominican Republic. This small Caribbean State remains one of the world’s top sugar suppliers to the USA. While sugar production and export in the Dominican Republic is a major source of income for the country, the adverse impacts of its production are various. Destruction of the environment, reduced access to land for local communities, forced evictions and precarious working conditions in sugarcane plantations are unfortunately a reality in many regions of this Caribbean State. Whilst the Dominican Republic has shown in past years a preparedness to abide by and implement international standards on matters related to business and human rights, the country continues to face many challenges and evidence of human rights violations on the ground still portrays a complicated reality. Two recent examples involving the sugar cane industry illustrate ongoing concern about human rights abuses in the Dominican Republic. In 2016, armed agents of one of the largest sugar producers in the country, Central Romana Corporation, forcibly evicted from their homes more than 60 families during the night. No alternative accommodation or reparations have been provided to the victims to redress the destruction of their homes and the trauma caused by the violence of the evictions. In 2017, the Vicini Group, the second main sugar producing company in the country, used the pesticide Glyphosate in such a way that many were in danger of death and that it destroyed the crops of peasant farmers and workers. To date, the human rights violations in both cases continue to be unpunished. There is a growing international concern that the sugar cane industry in the Dominican Republic is somehow able to act with impunity when it comes to human rights violations. Bearing in mind the upcoming Universal Periodic Review of Dominican Republic, in which all UN Member States will examine the human rights situation in the country, this side event is aimed at informing and shedding light on this little known reality in the Dominican Republic as well as to brief State delegations about the importance of addressing this issue in their review of the Dominican Republic. The event will also provide a space for constructive dialogue among various actors, including the Government of the Dominican Republic. Panelists: - An expert on issues related to business and human rights (Carlos Lopez, International Commission of Jurists) - An expert on the issue of the sugar industry in Dominican Republic and its impacts on human rights (Fr. Damián Calvo Martin OP, Centro de Teología Santo Domingo de Guzman) - A victim of forced evictions by Central Romana Corp. (María Magdalena Álvarez Gálvez) Moderator: Rory Gogarty, High Court of England and Wales Interpretation: Will be provided from English to Spanish and Spanish to English