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EDC’s response to alleged abuse in Colombian oilfields highlights deficits in due diligence

Our latest correspondence with Export Development Canada (EDC) about the impacts in Colombia of two oil companies it financed highlights our longstanding concerns about the adequacy and transparency of the agency’s human rights due diligence practices.

Last fall, following the release of a report documenting serious human rights abuses associated with the operations of EDC clients Pacific Exploration & Production and Ecopetrol in Colombia’s Rubiales and Quifa oilfields, we joined the report authors[1] in writing to EDC to express our concern. We asked the agency whether it was aware of the substantial risks associated with oil development in the region when it decided to finance the two companies, and how it would respond to the reported violations of indigenous, labour and environmental rights connected to its clients’ activities.[2]

Export Development Canada’s letter of reply neglected to provide any substantive answer to these questions.

As we note in our response to EDC, posted below, it remains unclear how the agency will address reported abuses associated with its clients’ activities — including the violation by Pacific E&P of Colombian law governing consultation with indigenous peoples, as determined by a 2015 court ruling. It also remains unclear how EDC will ensure that its clients remediate the harms caused, provide redress, and prevent their operations from heightening the serious risks to local community leaders who’ve spoken out critically about the companies’ activities and now face death threats.

Our partner organizations have replied directly in this letter to Pacific E&P regarding the comments provided by the company to EDC.

[1] FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights), CCAJAR (Jose Alvear Restrepo Lawyers' Collective) and PASO International (Project for International Accompaniment and Solidarity in Colombia)

[2] In addition to the abuses in the Quifa and Rubiales oilfields documented in the report, Ecopetrol has also faced controversy over its fracking operations in Colombia’s drought-devastated Casanare region.