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Human Rights Groups Petition Coca-Cola Ceo Over Alleged Consumer Rights Abuses In Nigeria

Six Nigerian human rights Non-Governmental Organisations and civil society organizations have sent an open letter to Mr. Muhtar Kent, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of The Coca-Cola Company, over alleged consumer rights abuses by Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited.

The groups are: Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP); Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC); Women Empowerment and Legal Aid Initiative (WELA); Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre); Partnership for Justice (PJ), and Human Rights Advancement, Development and Advocacy Centre (HURIDAC)

In the letter dated 9 December, 2014, and signed on behalf of the groups by Adetokunbo Mumuni, SERAP’s Executive Director, the groups expressed serious concerns about the continuing refusal by Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited to comply with the recommendations by the Consumer Protection Council of Nigeria (CPC) and urged Kent to use his good offices and leadership to prevail on the Company to respect due process and international standards in its operations and manufacturing process.

According to the groups, “the failure by Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited to effectively comply with Nigerian laws and regulations is illustrated by the Company’s refusal to subject their manufacturing process to inspection by appropriate authorities, in particular the CPC; failure to establish a Shelf Life Policy for their products in the country which clearly would help to facilitate the removal of expired products from the market; and failure to address health and safety implications of its operations and practices.”

Other instances listed by the groups are: “failure to put in place appropriate grievance resolution policy that can address compensation for injuries, or compensation in instances where replacement will be inadequate; failure to review the Company’s supply chain management to include retailers in order to minimise the distribution of defective, non-conforming or expired products; and failure to bring the Company’s traceability policy in line with international standards by only relying on information as to the place of purchase to trace their products.”

“Impunity persists when Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited despite its many years of operation and profit-making in the country continues to fail to provide strong leadership and embrace best practices in the implementation of international standards, and therefore failing to provide value for money for millions of Nigerian consumers. Yet, investment guarantee and profit considerations should not take precedent over consumer inalienable rights and satisfaction,” the groups also said.

The groups also said that the lack of due diligence clearly had implications for the enjoyment of consumer and human rights, saying that the lack accountability and impunity by Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited is not only unethical but also inconsistent with international standards such as the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework.

“The Guiding Principles were endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011. The Principles require that Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited show genuine commitment to product safety and quality in Nigeria, and to respect and accept the recommendations of appropriate authorities on the compliance of its plants and operations with international standards, as the parent company does in developed economies,” they said.

According to the groups, “Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited is also required to ensure that its activities do not directly or indirectly cause consumer rights abuses, and to provide effective remedies to victims in cases of abuses of consumer rights. The Company must seek to prevent or mitigate adverse consumer rights impacts that are directly linked to their operations, products or services by their business relationships, even if they have not contributed to those impacts.”

“The responsibility of Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited to respect consumer rights is a global standard of expected conduct for all business enterprises wherever they operate. It exists over and above compliance with national laws and regulations protecting human rights. We contend that addressing adverse consumer rights impacts in its operations and practices requires taking adequate measures for their prevention, mitigation and, where appropriate, remediation,” they added.

“We would consider appropriate legal action if the situation is not urgently and effectively addressed,” the groups added.

The groups urged Mr Kent to direct and instruct Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited to urgently and publicly state the steps it would take to fully and effectively comply with the recommendations by the CPC, and to publish widely the Company’s existing environmental, health and safety policies and practices.

They said Coca Cola should avoid causing or contributing to adverse consumer rights impacts through its activities, and address such impacts when they occur as well sought to prevent or mitigate adverse consumer rights impacts that are directly linked to its operations, products or services.


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