Tribune. Electricité de France (EDF) is planning the construction of an industrial-scale wind farm on the land of the indigenous community of Union Hidalgo, in southern Mexico.
For several years, the French energy company has remained silent in the face of accusations of violation of the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples, enshrined in the Mexican Constitution and international law: the Mexican subsidiaries of EDF are, in fact, suspected of violating the right to the community to free, prior and informed consent on the implementation of the project, by selectively influencing the opinion of some of its members. The result is the extreme polarization of the population, a major social conflict and the escalation of violence against human rights defenders.
In this context, several human rights organizations have warned against serious threats and attacks against Union Hidalgo’s rights and land defenders. On June 18, 2019, the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) launched a urgent call to protect the defenders of Union Hidalgo. An alert all the more worrying as the United Nations rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mary Lawlor, notes in her recent report that Latin America remains the most dangerous region for human rights defenders, with Mexico, Honduras, Brazil and Colombia leading the way in terms of the number of murders.
Several Mexican and international associations and representatives of the community have successively sought to launch a dialogue with EDF, to prevent new violations, to no avail. Since, under French law, EDF is required to prevent these violations, theECCHR [European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, en français le Centre européen pour les droits constitutionnels et les droits humains] and Prodesc [Projet pour les droits économiques, sociaux et culturels] sent a formal notice to the company in October 2019, asking it to respect its duty of vigilance. On October 13, 2020, they brought proceedings against the company before the Paris court; a first hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, October 26.
EDF is not a company like the others: 83% of its capital is held by the State Participation Agency (APE), whose director sits on the company’s board of directors. The French state therefore plays a predominant role. In addition, states have the responsibility under international law to ensure respect for human rights deriving from their international commitments.
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“France must call on EDF to respect the rights of indigenous peoples in Mexico”