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Peruvian police take part in an operation to destroy illegal gold mining camps in 2015 in a zone known as Mega 14, in the southern Amazon region of Madre de Dios, Peru. (CNS photo/Janine Costa, Reuters)

Our engagements with companies to protect the human rights of each person impacted by corporate activity are centered within two industrial sectors: mining and the private prison industry.

Oil, gas, and other mining companies often operate in places of extreme poverty, repressive governments, civil conflict, weak rule of law, endemic corruption, or poor labor and environmental standards. The World Bank reports that globally the extractive industries are important for the economies of over 50 developing countries where up to 1.5 billion people live on less than $2 per day. Extractive industries have been linked to human rights abuses and civil conflict in a number of countries.

Our engagements with two mining companies arose out of conversations with Jesuits and lay colleagues working in communities impacted by mining operations: Aura Minerals, which operates the San Andres mine in Honduras and Barrick Gold, which operates the Pueblo Viejo mine in the Dominican Republic. In both of these dialogues, we are urging the company to develop accountable and transparent human rights policies that will protect the health, safety and rights of community members and the environment. We use the principle of Free Prior Informed Consent of all community members as we push for transparency.  Aura is working to finalize a responsible mining policy that will include human rights and environmental policies. Once adopted JCIR will ensure it is sufficiently implemented throughout Aura’s mining operations. Barrick Gold needs to address concerns from community members about the impact of mining operations on air and water quality.  This effort is clouded by contamination by both historical companies operating in the area and another active mine in the community.

Our engagement with GEO Group, a private prison company, came out of our desire to ensure that corporate policies and practices protected the human rights and dignity of every individual who is incarcerated. By engaging with GEO Group, we are also calling for humane treatment of immigrants held in detention facilities. GEO Group adopted a human rights policy in 2013.  Our goal is to see the company fully implement their human rights policy, including training of personnel and disclosure of implementation metrics.