WADOO!!NEWS: World Bank Group: Project critics threatened, harassed, jailed- HRW
THE World Bank Group has done little to prevent or dissuade governments from intimidating critics of the projects it funds, or monitor for reprisals, Human Rights Watch(HRW) said in a report released yesterday. The 144-page report, titled “At Your Own Risk:
Reprisals against Critics of World Bank Group Projects,” details how governments and powerful companies have threatened, intimidated, and misused criminal laws against outspoken community members who stand to be displaced or otherwise allegedly harmed by projects financed by the World Bank and its private sector lending arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
Human Rights Watch said it found out that the World Bank and IFC have failed to take adequate steps to help create a safe environment in which people can express concern or criticism about projects funded by the Bank Group without risk of reprisal,.
“The World Bank has long said that public participation and accountability are key to the success of the development efforts it funds,” said Jessica Evans, senior international financial institutions advocate at Human Rights Watch.
It said “But the World Bank’s repeated failure to confront intimidation or harassment of people who criticize its projects risks making a mockery out of these principles.” Human Rights Watch found that people who have publicly criticized projects financed by the World Bank and IFC have faced threats, harassment, and trumped-up criminal charges in Cambodia, India, Uganda, Uzbekistan, and elsewhere.
When reprisals have occurred the Bank Group has largely left victims to their fate, preferring silence or “quiet diplomacy” over the kind of prompt, public, and vigorous responses that could make a real difference. In spite of what are often grave risks, affected community members in numerous countries have spoken out about the problems that they see with Bank-supported projects.
In northern India, 30-year-old Sita, not her real name, described how employees of the company in charge of constructing a hydropower dam publicly ridiculed community members who were protesting the project as “prostitutes,” viciously insulted them referencing their caste, and warned them of “severe” consequences if they continued their protest.
In Uganda, staff at Uganda Land Alliance and a journalist who worked to document and stop forced evictions linked to an IFC project described threats, including death threats. The government also demanded a public apology to the president and threatened to deregister Uganda Land Alliance unless they withdrew their report documenting the evictions.