Worker’s Rights Activists and Union Leaders

Worker’s rights activists and union leaders working to expose corrupt business practices or ensure protections for workers face different forms of retaliation, including violent threats, restrictions on their ability to form associations, and frivolous criminal charges. The Justice Defenders Program works with local partners facing such threats to develop innovative strategies to document abuses, form cross-sectoral coalitions, build public support, and engage key stakeholders to increase respect for human rights in business operations. We have also provided training on the documentation of labor violations, investigated violations of the U.S. Tariff Act, and engaged buyers about violations by their suppliers. Additionally, the Program helps activists secure protection from violent threats.

Please see below for examples our public work involving worker's rights activists and union leaders.


Communities Under Pressure: Findings from Valbonia, Albania

In January 2019, the Justice Defenders Program investigated reports that activists and community members who objected to the proliferation of hydropower plants (HPPs) in Valbona, Albania were facing consistent harassment from local state and company actors. Its report, “Communities under Pressure – Findings from Valbona, Albania,” describes instances of alleged harassment as reported by those who were interviewed by its investigator. As in the rest of the world, the forms of harassment reported included arrests or threats of arrests, apparently selective prosecutions of activists, threats to job security for activists or their family members, judicial harassment, anonymous threats, and smear campaigns that undermined familial and communal relationships.  


Trial Observation Report: The Case of Rafael Marques de Morais

The Justice Defenders Program observed the trial of Angolan journalist Rafael Marques de Morais was charged with defamation in relation to his book Blood Diamonds : Corruption and Torture in Angola. The book implicated high ranking Angolan military officials for human rights violations committed in one of Angola's diamond mining areas. After proceedings that denied Marques de Morais the right to present a defense, induced him into making a statement on the basis of false pretenses, and compelled him to bear the burden of proving his innocence, all in violation of international fair trial standards, Marques de Morais was found guilty. 


Tainted Stones: Bonded Labor and Child Labor in the India-U.S. Sandstone Supply Chain

The report recommends that all stakeholders, including the Government of India, and the U.S. government, as well as business enterprises involved in exporting, importing, mining, and processing, should ensure protection of human rights through due diligence and best practices in the sandstone mining industry’s supply chain. The recommendations propose a holistic approach that governments, companies, civil society organizations and trade unions should undertake to eradicate serious human rights violations from Rajasthan’s sandstone mining industry.