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term definition
Administrative agency A government body that is authorised to implement legislative directives through more precise and technical rules. Many administrative agencies also have law enforcement responsibilities. An example of administrative agency is the environmental protection agency that can create environmental laws, inspect the environment and provide support to minimise environmental threats.
Appeal a conviction This means that if you want to challenge a conviction, you cannot use the writ of certiorari as a legal remedy. Rather, you will need to file an appeal.
Arbitral Award A determination by an arbitration tribunal which can consist of an order to pay compensation or/and allow for the formation of a union.
Business activities Everything that a business does in the course of fulfilling the objectives, decisions, purpose or strategy of the business. It can include production of goods, construction, contracting, lobbying, relocation of communities, legal and financial functions and other things.
Business Person A person that works for a business. It can include employees, executive board members, directors and managers.
Business related human rights abuses Human rights harms that are committed by a State or a business through acts or omissions in the context of business activities. Business activities include everything that a business does in the course of fulfilling its objectives, decisions, purpose or strategy.
Business A business is a legal entity. Business can be formed of separate companies operating in different countries. In this case, they will be called a multinational corporation.
Chain of custody The principle that once evidence is removed from an investigative scene or person there must be a record of every person who had possession of it. The identity of every person having custody must be documented. Each person is considered a link in a chain of custody. The chain of custody should also provide a complete history of who controlled the information. A thoroughly documented chain of custody will help establish the origin of a piece of evidence and will be crucial in establishing whether the evidence has been modified or tampered with.
Civil lawsuit A civil lawsuit deals with disputes between private parties. It includes different areas such as tort, contracts, wills, trusts, property, family, and commercial law. In general, the state plays no role in a civil lawsuit except if it initiates a suit, is the party being sued or intervenes in the case.
Class action lawsuit A legal action that involves a group of individuals who have similar interest regarding an alleged wrong. When a class action lawsuit is used, multiple claims are resolved in a single proceeding.
Cognizable/ non-cognizable offenses Classifications of crime used in the legal system of India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Cognizable offences are more serious crimes, where police officers have the authority to make an arrest without a warrant and to start an investigation with or without the permission of a court. Non-cognizable offences are less serious, such as misbehaviour, public annoyance etc, and police officers do not have the authority to make an arrest without a warrant or an investigation without a court order.
Common Contextual Elements Practitioners focusing on information that establishes the individual violations will also need to collect information to establish the associated common, contextual elements. These will need to be investigated in order to establish that the individual violation amounts to a business related human rights abuse.
Court of first instance The court in which legal procedures are first heard.
Criminal lawsuit A criminal lawsuit is based on criminal law. Usually, criminal lawsuits are brought by the state against an individual who has violated criminal law. The public prosecutor - which represents the state - will fill the case and attempt to prove that the defendant is guilty of the crime he is charged with.
Direct Perpetrator The person(s) who physically committed the crime.
File a motion You submit a document to the prosecutor in which you ask them to include you as a party to the criminal case.
Fivolous complaint A “frivolous” complaint means that the complaint has been instituted without any sound basis in fact or in law.
Grievance An allegation, issue, or problem that a worker raises in relation to his or her experience at work. A grievance may relate to working conditions, living conditions, employment practices, unfair treatment, or other job-related concerns.
Gross human rights violations / abuses Human rights violations with a certain degree of severity and gravity. They include torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, summary and arbitrary executions, disappearances, arbitrary detentions, all forms of racism, racial discrimination and apartheid, foreign occupation and alien domination, xenophobia, poverty, hunger and other denials of economic, social and cultural rights, religious intolerance, terrorism, discrimination against women and lack of the rule of law.
Human Rights Defender Anyone who, alone or with others, acts to promote or protect human rights in a peaceful manner. It can be a community leader, unionists, a journalist or yourself!
Human Rights Basic rights that all human beings have and that are aimed at securing dignity and equality for all. Everyone is entitled to enjoy them without discrimination based on race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. They are contained in the International Bill of Human Rights.
Injury A harm suffered by a person due to some act or omission done by another person. In most countries, an injury can be physical, psychological or material. An injury can, in certain circumstances, give rise to civil, criminal or administrative claims.
Interim provisional measures Measures that can be taken in urgent cases to prevent irreparable harm to the alleged victim.
Labour Rights Abuses Labour rights abuses consist of violations of national or international labour law as contained under the International Labour Organisation Conventions. The 8 core conventions of the International Labour Organization are key instruments which govern the four categories of principles and rights at work: freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining; the elimination of forced and compulsory labour; the abolition of child labour; and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
Leading/Non-Leading Question A leading question is one which either (a) suggests the desired answer; or (b) assumes the existence of a disputed fact. The non-leading question allows the person to offer a range of answers.
Mapping the corporate chain The process of documenting information on a targeted company, its corporate structure and the individuals who are involved in taking decisions, to create a global map of all relevant corporate actors and their relationships.
Material (physical) Elements The physical elements that must be committed in order to prove that a violation has occurred. These are: the conduct that needs to be committed, the consequences that have occurred and the circumstances in which the violation occurred.
Metadata Metadata, or “data about data '' is comparable to the content of catalogues and inventories in libraries and used to verify the authenticity of digital information. It describes digital information through some of its basic characteristics such as its creator and the date and time of its creation. Metadata may be located outside or embedded in the resource it describes. A common method of creating metadata is by manually completing a form, either in writing or electronically, using predefined categories and vocabularies.
Open Source Information Open source information is any information in the public domain. This includes information from mass media (print and broadcast), such as news reports, journals, documentaries, reports from the United Nations or NGOs, government public records, internet or information database research, satellite images and social media sources, etc.
Operational-level grievance mechanism / Company mechanism Formal company procedures for receiving complaints from affected stakeholders about negative company impacts. The individuals or communities complaining can attempt to address perceived problems and might want to receive compensation.
Prima Facie A latin expression used to design a conclusion that can be raised at first sight or based on a first impression.
Principle of Natural Justice The principle of natural justice entails that man is basically good, that a person of good intent should not be harmed and one should treat others as they would like to be treated.
Protective Measures Protective measures provide a mechanism to balance the need to protect the security and privacy of the victims and witnesses with the rights of the accused to a fair and public trial. The party requesting protective measures must demonstrate the existence of an objectively grounded risk to the security and welfare of the witness or the witness’s family, should it become publicly known that he or she testified before the court. As assessment of the safeguards necessary for each witness should take into account the personal safety concerns of each witness as objectively justified and in lights of the circumstances of each proceeding. Relevant considerations include: the location of the witness; the nature and sensitivity of their testimony; and their status at the time of events or their proximity to the accused. The types of protective measures the courts may grant include electronic face and voice distortion or the use of a pseudonym. Courts may also order special measures, such as allowing a counsel, a legal representative, a psychologist or a family member to be permitted to attend during the testimony of the victim or the witness. Courts ought to pay special attention to the questioning of victims of crimes of sexual violence. In particularly serious cases, witnesses or victims may be admitted under the protection program of the court, which includes the possibility of relocation.
Remediation/Remedy Remediation is the process of providing remedy for a human rights abuse. A remedy is the substantive outcome that can make good the abuse. It can take different forms such as apologies, restitution, rehabilitation, financial or non-financial compensation, and punitive sanctions (criminal or administrative including fines) along with means to prevent harm through injunctions.
Safety and Security Recommendations Practitioners should pay attention to the safety and securities of individuals they interact with but also to their own safety and security. Indeed, as investigators of human rights violations, practitioners can face both targeted or indirect threats.
Sexual and Gender Based Violence Any act that is perpetrated against a person’s will and is based on gender norms and unequal power relationships. It encompasses threats of violence and coercion. It can be physical, emotional, psychological, or sexual in nature, and can take the form of a denial of resources or access to services. It inflicts harm on women, girls, men and boys.
SLAPP Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) are lawsuits that are filed or initiated with the intent to intimidate and harass human rights defenders who are engaged in acts of public participation, including criticism or opposition.
Stakeholders Individuals, or groups, or organisations representing people that are or may be affected by company operations, products, services or a project or have interest in a project.
Strike A strike is defined as the denial of work organised by a body of employees as a form of protest, typically in an attempt to gain a concession or concessions from their employer.
Tort A tort is a proactive conduct or a failure to act that causes injury and harm for which a business person who acted or failed to act can be held liable under civil (not criminal) law.
United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) A set of 31 principles that detail the respective roles of States and Businesses in ensuring that businesses respect human rights in their business activities and through their business relationships. The UNGPs were endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011.
Valid Means The standard to be followed while collecting evidence.
Value Chain A business’s value chain includes entities with which a business has a direct or indirect business relationship and which either (a) supply products or services that contribute to the business’s own products or services or (b) receive products or services from the business.
Vicarious liability A legal responsibility for other people's actions. For example, an employer can be vicariously liable for an employee and parents can be liable for the actions of their children.
Witness Statement / Witness Summary A witness statement signed by a witness will be considered to ‘belong’ to the witness. If later statements or accounts are materially different, it may be used in court to impeach them. Therefore, interviewing a witness with a view to obtaining a signed statement should only be attempted if the practitioner is confident that the circumstances are amenable to an accurate and comprehensive interview (e.g. sufficient time, safe and secure environment) and they have the required skills and experience. If in doubt, it may be prudent to aim only to obtain a witness summary with a view to recording the broad “four corners” of the testimony so that it preserves the main aspects of the testimony, and provides a trained practitioner with sufficient material to conduct a more formal interview, or gather other information or obtain evidential leads. A summary belongs to the practitioner and not the witness and thus has limited impeachment value.
Worker An individual that performs work for a business with or without a contract.