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Colombia: NGOs oppose alleged criminalization of critic of Enel’s El Quimbo hydroelectric project

The construction of El Quimbo dam by Emgesa (part of Enel), in Huila, Colombia, has allegedly displaced thousands of people depending on fishing and agriculture in a vast area of the Magdalena River, and is putting people’s livelihoods at risk.  Amongst those opposing the dam, Professor Milller Dussan has been a prominent critic. Mr. Dussan is now facing two criminal charges of defamation, and NGOs are campaigning to have the accusations dropped.  Business & Human Rights invited Enel to respond; the response is available.

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Company response
21 February 2017

Response by Emgesa

Author: Emgesa (parte de Enel)

Emgesa does not share the analysis of Open Democracy on the legal proceedings and, above all, the description of the proactive role played by the company. Nevertheless, the company takes the opportunity to reiterate that it looks forward to continuing with its business in the region in a sustainable way and in this respect has no interest in a fight with Asoquimbo. The company therefore confirms that it will not appeal the decision that will be taken on February 22nd and will waive any further pending claim.

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Article
2 February 2017

“Public statement – to cease the judicial persecution against Miller Dussán and Elsa Ardila and in support of the Association of those affected by The Quimbo dam project (Asoquimbo), in Colombia”

Author: Maude Barlow, Council of Canadians; Nnimmo Bassey, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (Homef); The Democracy Center; Global Justice Now and 56 additional signatures

2 February 2017

…Miller Dussán is a Colombian university professor and President of the Association of Those Affected by the Quimbo dam (ASOQUIMBO). El Quimbo is a mega-dam built by the Italian corporate energy giant ENEL-EMGESA, on the Magdalena river in the Department of Huila in southern Colombia…As a result of the above stated, the signatories below demand that:…Garzon Municipal Court in Huila to drop the charges brought as a result of accusations made by EMGESA against Miller Dussán and Elsa Ardila for the supposed crime of ‘blocking public roads in ways that affect public order’. We firmly believe that the legal cases being brought against these two environmental leaders are part of an overarching strategy of judicial intimidation, the final aim of which is to repress local resistance to mega-dams and other extractivist projects across the region…The Corporation, ENEL-EMGESA, immediately desist from the judicial persecution of leaders of ASOQUIMBO; withdraw the two charges it has brought; and withdraw its plans for building of any further socially and environmentally destructive mega-dams in Latin America…

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Company response
30 January 2017

Response by Enel

Author: Enel

…It is our opinion that the facts on which the article is based include a number of factual inaccuracies, misrepresentations and some basic misunderstandings of the case, of how the Colombian Legal System works and on the fundamentals of the Colombian energy market. In addition, some of the article statements have in the meanwhile ascertained as wrong, both in the Colombian Court of Law and in the court of Colombian public opinion…We trust that the facts below will show that El Quimbo hydro power project goes beyond the simple compliance with the environmental requirements, that are clearly fulfilled…We would be delighted to work with you, as we do with many other act organizations who wish to engage constructively to ensure transparency and fairness, in an open and accurate debate.

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Article
30 January 2017

“Charges against Miller Dussan”

Author: Frontline Defenders

The next hearing of the trial against Colombian human rights defender Mr. Miller Dussan will take place on 6 February 2017, at the Garzon Municipal Court in Huila. Because of his peaceful work protecting environmental and land rights, Miller Dussan is currently facing two charges and he risks being jailed for more than ten years.

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Article
30 January 2017

“Damming dissent: how an Italian multinational is persecuting environmental defenders In Colombia”

Author: Thomas Mc Donagh & Philippa de Boissière, Democracy Center (Bolivia), in OpenDemocracy (UK)

23 January 2017

The practices of an Italian multinational in Huila, Colombia, exemplify how the criminalization of activists is increasingly used to end dissent and real democratic participation in Latin America… In his late sixties, Miller Dussan is an affable, well-respected Colombian academic and community leader. Yet on 6th February 2017 the father of two will appear in court to face one of two legal charges that could see him locked behind bars for up to twelve years. Miller's alleged crimes stem from his committed defense of Colombia's main waterway in his native region of Huila and the livelihoods of those that depend upon it. His accuser, EMGESA, is the local subsidiary of Italian multinational energy giant ENEL.

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Article
11 November 2016

"Public Hearing El Quimbo Hydroelectric Power plant"

Author: Emgesa (parte de Enel)

November 11, 2016

Background: 2009 Environmental License 2010…Commencement of work and EMP 2015…Filling and start-up…We talk, we agree, and we build together…For the first time in Colombia, roundtables were carried out to define cooperation agreements…EMGESA is responsible for 30 agreements; of these, 20 were included in the Environmental License. The municipalities in the area of influence are responsible for 5 agreements, the Ministry of Mines for 2, and the Ministry of Agriculture for 6.

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