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U.S. Government: Investigate U.S. Funding of Human Rights Abuses in Liberia!

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On January 22, 2014, hundreds of Liberians filed a complaint with a U.S. Government agency demanding accountability for its funding of a biomass company that caused serious human rights, labor and environmental abuses, including sexual abuse by company employees of local women. 

The U.S. Government agency – the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) –approved over $200 million in financing for the company, Buchanan Renewables.  The company cut down rubber trees for biofuel and was supposed to rejuvenate family farms and create sustainable energy for Liberia.  Instead, hundreds of Liberians are now worse off than they were prior to OPIC’s investment.  OPIC has refused to take responsibility for the harm it caused.  Tell OPIC’s President and CEO that her agency must take responsibility for its role in funding this human rights disaster.

With funding from OPIC, Buchanan Renewables harmed the vulnerable Liberians it was supposed to be helping: 

Indigenous farmers who had subsisted on income from their rubber trees were left struggling to satisfy basic needs.  The company’s practices contaminated community drinking water, and family members attribute the death of at least one child to the company’s contamination.

Vulnerable charcoal producers were forced to compete with the company for the rubber trees they rely on to make charcoal.  Company employees demanded bribes – or sex from women – for leftover wood that the company had promised to give them for free.  As a result, OPIC’s allegedly climate-friendly investment drove charcoal producers to degrade nearby natural forests, causing negative climate impacts.

Workers faced rampant rights violations.  Many workers suffered debilitating and permanent injuries from workplace accidents and did not receive adequate medical care or compensation.  Several female agriculture workers reported that their male supervisors sexually abused them and retaliated if they refused their supervisors’ sexual advances.

The company, Buchanan Renewables, has not been held accountable, and the U.S. Government has not investigated or taken responsibility for its role in funding these abuses in violation of its own rules.  In signing this petition, you are calling on OPIC to investigate these abuses and provide assistance to project-affected people whose suffering has been ignored.  Sign this petition to let the U.S. Government know that you won’t stand idly by while it invests in irresponsible and abusive projects that increase poverty, abuse women and harm the environment.

Here at Accountability Counsel, we assist communities around the world to voice their complaints about human rights abuses related to internationally-financed projects.  Today, we are raising the voices of hundreds of vulnerable Liberians harmed by this project financed by the U.S. Government, and we ask you to join us. 

Sign this petition to demand justice for the Liberians harmed by this abusive project.   Raise your voice so their voices can be heard!



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