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Czechia

Introduction [page 4]

“The question of business and human rights was thrust into the public consciousness in the 1990s. With modern business no longer confined by the borders of nation states, production and extraction operations are free to roam in pursuit of the right raw materials, economic conditions and labour.”

Most serious infringements of working conditions [page 16]

“Between 2009 and 2011, there were several cases of large-scale labour exploitation involving up to several hundred workers in the forestry sector (Finding of the Constitutional Court II. ÚS 3436/14 of 19 January 2016 and Finding of the Constitutional Court I. ÚS 3196/12 of 12 August 2014).”

Supply chains and conflict minerals [page 20-21]

“Implements Principles 6 and 7

Increasing attention is being paid to safety conditions at work (e.g. the use of slave and child labour in mining). Risks of this type are particularly serious in areas plagued by armed conflict, which can be attributed to the absence of state authority here. Raw materials imported from geopolitically unstable regions and flashpoints may be used as a source of funding to reconstruct the country and improve the conditions in which its inhabitants live. On the other hand, various groups may exploit slave or child labour in mining operations or in factories, and the proceeds from sales could then be used to pay for weapons and soldiers. The raw materials they have mined and the products they have made are then sold on the global market, often without the buyers knowing their provenance.

This is a problem that needs to be tackled internationally. One solution lies in certification schemes proving the origin of raw materials. The certification authority guarantees that workers’ rights have not been infringed during mining or production. These certificates are issued by state and international organisations on the one hand, and private issuers on the other. Current legislation allows the public sector to take into account or to demand this certification in the course of procurement, in which case it is only necessary to comply with the conditions of transparency, equal treatment and non-discrimination. [Judgment of the EU Court of Justice of 10 May 2012 in European Commission v Kingdom of the Netherlands (C-368/10)]

Current state of play:

  • At EU level, a regulation on “conflict minerals” has been adopted in order to standardise procedure in all EU Member States.
  • European Commission is working with the OECD to establish criteria for internal control and regulatory mechanisms at businesses.
  • Numerous voluntary certification schemes run by states and international organisations on the one hand and the private sector on the other attempt to map out the origin of raw materials and supply chains.
  • The Dodd-Frank Act in the US requires a certificate of origin for certain raw materials. This is also relevant to the Czech Republic inasmuch as it also applies to foreign subcontractors.
  • Under the new European rules on non-financial reporting, companies will also publish information on their supply chains.
  • The Czech Republic was involved in the consultation and approval of the OECD-FAO Guidance for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains. The Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Agriculture will arrange for this Guidance to be published and publicised at their seminars and workshops.
  • The Czech Republic was involved in the consultation and approval of OECD recommendations on the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas and Due Diligence Guidance for Meaningful Stakeholder Engagement in the Extractive Sector. The Ministry of Industry and Trade IS now considering how they can best be implemented in the Czech Republic.

Tasks:

  • Establish one or more competent bodies responsible for the application, in the Czech Republic, of Regulation (EU) 2017/821 of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down supply chain due diligence obligations for Union importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold originating from conflict-affected and high-risk areas, and notify that body (those bodies) to the European Commission.
    Coordinator: Ministry of Trade and Industry
    Deadline: 9 December 2017
  • In the public sector’s procurement of high-risk products and raw materials, consider giving preference to suppliers participating in recognised certification schemes.
    Coordinators: All ministries
    Deadline: Running”

Pillar II, Scope and content of the obligation to respect human rights [page 30]

“For businesses, there are three dimensions to respect for human rights: …

  • Do not be associated with violations of human rights: This applies to other parties’ activities about which a business knows, on which it has a bearing, and/or which are closely related to its own business, and may encompass:
    • Lending for a mining project that permanently damages the environment. …”
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