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Listen to our podcast on "Land grabs, human rights, and the UK"

As part of a programme of events organised by the Law Society to mark this year's Human Rights Day, on Monday 8 December Leigh Day held an evening of discussion on “land grabs”, human rights, and the UK

Posted on 15 December 2014

Described as one of the biggest issues facing Africa, the growing phenomenon of “land grabs” has a tangible British connection.

As resource-rich developing countries seek to attract local and foreign investment, governments and non-state actors alike are rapidly acquiring large tracts of land for commercial exploitation of natural resources. Farmers and Indigenous peoples that depend on the land for their livelihoods and way of life are increasingly at risk of forced and often violent displacement. 

This stimulating discussion examines the alleged role of British companies and the UK government in cases of land grabs, and the complex legal issues involved.

  • Meghna Abraham, Amnesty International - The human rights impacts of land grabs on local populations

Meghna Abraham, Deputy Director of the Global Thematic Issues, is Amnesty International's lead researcher on corporate crimes. She was previously the Head of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and led on Amnesty International's work on a wide range of issues including the right to adequate housing, forced evictions and other human rights violations experienced by people living in slums and informal settlements. She has also focused on remedies for corporate human rights abuses and extra-territorial obligations of states.

  • Rosa Curling, Solicitor, Leigh Day - The UK Government and land grabs in Ethiopia

Rosa Curling is a solicitor in the human rights department at Leigh Day. She specialises in public law, particularly judicial review and human rights cases. She has been instructed in many legal challenges to UK national bodies, for example, government departments, regulators, the NHS, local authorities, as well as international bodies, for example, the European Council and the Turkish government. She acts for claimants on a variety of issues including public international law, international criminal law, health, education, community care, corporate responsibility, the environment, discrimination, unlawful detention, freedom of information, ‘the right to life’ and ‘the right to die’.

  • Gordon Bennett, Barrister - British companies, land grabs and the law

Gordon Bennett is a former member of New Square Chambers in Lincolns Inn.  He now practices on his own account, mostly in business and human rights law.  He has acted as lead counsel in a number of tribal land cases in Botswana (from which he is now banned), and drafted the OECD complaint against Vedanta Resources about its plans to mine tribal territory in India (from which he is also banned).  He prepared the claim about land grabs in the Lower Omo, Ethiopia which is before the African Human Rights Commission at the moment. 

Chaired by Shanta Martin, Partner, Leigh Day


Shanta is a partner in Leigh Day's International and Group Claims department. She has 10 years' experience in cases relating to corporate human rights abuses, having worked in different parts of the world with communities impacted by extractive industry operations, and with workers in the textile and agricultural sectors.