Answer given by Mr Mimica on behalf of the European Commission
The Commission takes allegations on human rights violations and mistreatment of indigenous peoples very seriously and can make use of the relevant contract clauses relating to the respect of human rights, which are embedded in all its development cooperation programmes, including those focusing on conservation. The Commission also recalls the May 2017 Council Conclusions which prioritised actions to address violence against indigenous peoples and individuals, in the context of the protection of the environment.
The Commission has asked the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to provide detailed information on their due diligence, complaint and enquiry mechanisms, and proper documentation of responses to any suggestion of human rights’ violations in EU-funded projects. The Commission is also waiting for the results of a high-level inquiry launched by the WWF following these allegations.
In the case of Messok Dja, Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is the cornerstone of the project; its results will inform Congolese authorities on whether to grant a protection status to this area or not. Upon learning about the allegations, the Commission formally addressed the Republic of Congo authorities, and the ‘Observatoire Congolais des Droits de l’Homme’, asking for a clarification mission to Messok Dja. The Commission also awaits the results of an ongoing United Nations Development Programme investigation. On 23 April 2019, the Commission met the Forest Peoples Programme (contracted by WWF to evaluate this FPIC), whose recommendations will be analysed and used for possibly adapting the Commission’s intervention.