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9 December 2011 | Angeline Albert
Businesses sourcing from the Democratic
Republic of Congo (DRC) and other countries could be at risk from complicity in
human rights abuses by security forces.
According to risk analysis firm Maplecroft, which
published its 2012 Human Rights Risk Index yesterday, some companies who rely on either public or private security firms
to protect their assets and operations in resource-rich countries are continuing
to fall foul of their own ethical policies and procedures.
Maplecroft’s Human Rights Risk Index scores 197 countries on human rights risks
based on 23 different indices, which include womens rights and working
conditions, and are based on a variety of sources including research by NGO Human
Rights Watch and the US government. It found the worst performing countries in
the index were Sudan in first place, DRC in second and Somalia in third.
Supply chain managers were urged to conduct
risk analysis of prospective security providers to ensure they do not engage in
human rights abuses, following the analyst’s findings that state-linked
security forces in the DRC were involved in kidnappings, forced labour, sexual
exploitation and forced military service.
Referring to the mineral-rich DRC, the
global risk analyst said: “Given the significant presence of large
multi-national companies in the country, the risk of complicity in human rights
violations by security forces remains at extreme levels.”
Although many companies are making efforts
to ensure minerals, such as tantalum used in the production of electronics, are
“conflict-free”, according to Maplecroft: “Allegations of complicity of
corporations sourcing minerals, known as conflict minerals, in areas controlled
by armed entities in killings and other abuses by those entities continue to
Maplecroft said the DRC’s weak governance
framework and extensive human rights violations by security forces means the
country has been one of the five worst offenders for the past five years.