World Bank criticised over human rights checks

Gambella, Ethiopia Villagers have been forcibly relocated in the Gambella region of Ethiopia

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The World Bank is funding projects that are detrimental to human rights, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

It says the bank "lacks adequate checks" to ensure that its projects are not harming the rights of people affected by the projects.

The report cites projects in areas where there was alleged ill-treatment and forcible relocation of villagers.

The World Bank said it is dedicated to "reducing poverty and protecting people in the projects we finance".

In Vietnam, the HRW report said, the World Bank had funded projects in drug detention centres where ill-treatment had been documented.

"Human rights due diligence is not about naming and shaming governments in need of development funds," said Jessica Evans, senior advocate on international financial institutions at Human Rights Watch.

"It is the process of looking at the effect of the World Bank's lending or other support on human rights, and figuring out how to avoid or mitigate human rights risks."

In the Gambella region of Ethiopia, HRW said, a World Bank project to improve education, health and other services was running at the same time as the government was forcibly relocating villagers.

"As they currently stand, the World Bank's safeguard policies are insufficient to ensure that human rights are respected in its projects," the report said.

It says the World Bank needed to make human rights a priority and put in place enhanced safeguards.

The World Bank has begun an investigation into the project in Ethiopia and said it could not comment until this was complete.

In Vietnam, the Bank said, its work had helped save many lives.

"Human Rights Watch has been active in our first round of global conversations on ways to modernise our environmental and social safeguard policies for investment lending, which have been recognised as the world standard," it added.

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