Blog Archives

New Amnesty briefing reveals UK Government is sacrificing human rights on altar of foreign trade


A new hard-hitting briefing from Amnesty International launched today accuses the UK Government of allowing businesses to dip under the human rights radar when it comes to trade and investment.

The 30-page document A history of neglect: UK Export Finance and human rights shines a light on a little known agency operating out of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills – UK Export Finance (UKEF).

Peter Frankental, of Amnesty International, explained:

“Through UKEF, the Government is enabling UK businesses to engage in high risk activities without proper scrutiny of their human rights impacts.

Export credit agencies like UKEF should not be allowed to support projects that undermine human rights and destroy the environment. And yet the British public has no real idea what UKEF gets up to.

“It is shameful that through their inaction, David Cameron’s government cannot be sure that UKEF doesn’t contribute to forced labour, trafficking or abusive forms of child labour.”

Export credit agencies exist to fill a gap by supporting transactions and projects around the world that commercial banks consider too risky. The reasons can range from political instability to the fear that they will not get paid.

In these cases companies may turn for financial assistance to export credit agencies such as UKEF.

The concern, as revealed in the briefing, is that UKEF pays too little heed to international human rights standards such as the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Instead, UKEF has chosen to be constrained by the weak international standard for export credit agencies, the OECD’s ‘Common Approaches’. This means that the only transactions which are potentially considered for human rights and environmental impact assessment have to hit the following criteria: be for more than £10 million; last more than two years; and not be for the aerospace or defence sectors.

UKEF’s recently released annual report showed that of the 138 transactions supported in the last 12 months only eight could have been considered for human rights and environmental impact assessments.

Peter Frankental said:

“UKEF reflects a fatal combination of an agency that doesn’t want to be held accountable for its impacts and a Government that won’t lift a finger to hold it accountable.

“Human rights should not be sacrificed in this way on the altar of trade and investment.

“That cannot be allowed to continue. As a matter of urgency, the government should be pushing for complete transparency and the highest level of accountability.”

UKEF guarantees payment to the UK company exporting or investing abroad. If the contract is with a foreign state which defaults, the debt is covered by UKEF and added to that country’s sovereign debt to the UK. Debts to export credit agencies represent the majority of the developing world’s bilateral debt.

via AIUK : New Amnesty briefing reveals UK Government is sacrificing human rights on altar of foreign trade.

Shell to resume talks on Niger Delta oil spills


guardian.co.uk,June 2013 17.19 BST

Oil company Shell will resume talks next week in London with lawyers representing 15,000 of the poorest people in the world who are claiming millions of pounds’ compensation for oil spills on the Niger delta. But Martyn Day, of Leigh Day law firm which is acting for the communities, said the case could still go to a full high court trial in London in 2014.

The Shell petroleum development company of Nigeria (SPDC) has admitted liability for two spills from a pipeline in the Niger delta in 2008, but the company disputes the quantity of oil that was spilled and the damage that was done to livelihoods and the environment near the coastal village of Bodo in Rivers State. Oil spill experts working for the communities estimate that nearly 500,000 barrels leaked from the company pipeline over several months, Shell claims it was far less.

The legal action, represents the first time Shell or any oil company has faced claims in the UK from a community from the developing world for environmental damage. “We have agreed to negotiate over the next two to three weeks. Probably the talks will go on into the autumn when a deal will become more likely,” said Day.

The legal development came as Netherlands National Contact Point(NCP), which oversees the implementation of OECD guidelines on the human rights and environmental records of multinational companies, broadly backed claims by Amnesty International and Friends of the Earth International that Shell’s repeated assertions that sabotage is responsible for most of the oil spilt in Nigeria is based on flawed investigations which rely on information provided by the company itself. The two organisations offered NCP video evidence of “serious flaws” in the system used by Shell for investigating oil spills.

NCP accepted there were problems in the spill investigation system but criticised Shell. “Shell management should have had a more cautious attitude about the percentage of oil spills caused by the sabotage. The data they are based on is not absolute,” it said.

But FoeI and Amnesty said today that NCP should have gone much further in its criticism of Shell. “Sabotage is a problem in Nigeria, but Shell exaggerates this issue to avoid criticism for its failure to prevent oil spills,” said Audrey Gaughran of Amnesty International. “The oil companies are liable to pay compensation when spills are found to be their fault but not if the cause is attributed to sabotage – but it is effectively the company that investigates itself. This is clearly a system open to abuse.”

Shell replied that oil companies did not devise the investigation system and that they had acted within the Nigerian law. “Any spill is a serious concern, and SPDC staff and contractors are working hard to eliminate operational spills. Unfortunately the high incidence of oil theft and illegal refining in the Niger delta exacerbates the problem and has a devastating impact on the environment. This criminality is the real tragedy of the Niger delta. SPDC regrets that some NGOs continue to take a campaigning approach rather than focusing on on-the-ground solutions that bring societal benefits,” said the Shell spokesman Jonathan French.

Shell’s 2012 sustainability report states that 95% of the 26,500 barrels of oil spilled from Shell facilities in Nigeria which were as a result of sabotage. Of the 173 oil spills over 1.5 barrels from SPDC facilities, the company said 80% were caused by illegal activity.

via Royal Dutch Shell plc .com.

Shell under fresh pressure over reports of the size of its Niger Delta oil spills


Jun 19th, 2013 by John Donovan.

…an independent investigation into how the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s guidelines are enforced found ‘discrepancies’ between Shell’s story and other accounts of the size and cause of spills… urged Shell to publish all investigations carried out prior to 2011, potentially exposing the company to multi-million pound lawsuits…

ROYAL DUTCH SHELL

 

Royal Dutch Shell’s claims to be reducing the amount of oil it spills in Nigeria have been undermined by a report into how it publishes data on environmental disasters.

The Anglo-Dutch firm has been at pains to show that most spills in the Niger Delta are the result of thieves hacking into pipelines, a crime known as ‘bunkering’.

But an independent investigation into how the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s guidelines are enforced found ‘discrepancies’ between Shell’s story and other accounts of the size and cause of spills.

Holland’s National Contact Point for the OECD told the oil giant to ‘be prudent’ when publishing spill investigation data.

It also called on Shell to publish figures from before January 2011, when the company began putting information about leaks on its website.

And it repeated UN concerns that investigators are ‘at the mercy of the oil companies’ when assessing the size and severity of spills. The report follows a complaint by Friends of the Earth and

Amnesty International, which submitted evidence of spill investigations it said were heavily influenced by the company.

‘Shell has repeatedly stated operational spills are going down and sabotage is going up. This is all based on a process where the investigator is being investigated,’ said Audrey Gaughran, of Amnesty.

She called for more independent assessment to offset weakness in local regulation.

Shell has pointed to improvements in the way it reports spill information since 2011.

But Gaughran urged Shell to publish all investigations carried out prior to 2011, potentially exposing the company to multi-million pound lawsuits.

Shell (up 15p to 2118p) said that its Nigerian subsidiary SPDC ‘has been found to be in compliance with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises’.

via Royal Dutch Shell plc .com.

UK OK Nazi Law


Secret Courts

British human rights group Amnesty International and legal charity Reprieve have condemned the British government‘s secret courts passed in the House of Lords as a “terrible day for British justice”

“This is a terrible day for British justice. After fierce lobbying by the government, peers have failed to restore even minimal amendments previously included to this deeply damaging bill,”

The cherished and vitally important principle that justice must be done and seen to be done has been dealt a serious blow this evening,” said Tim Hancock, Amnesty International’s UK campaigns director.

Legal Agency Reprieve executive director Clare Algar said the secret courts will “do irreparable damage. It is deeply shameful that the government has been allowed to push these plans through parliament, despite the total lack of evidence that they are needed. Secret courts will ….. do irreparable damage to our reputation as a country which respects fair play and the rule of law,” she said.

British secret service officials, claim the Bill is designed to protect national security by preventing informers from being exposed.

Amnesty International said earlier, that the plan gives the British government the power to “simply play the ‘national security’ card whenever it wants to keep things secret”. The British government only needs the Queen’s Royal stamp of approval, to start the secret courts as new law in Britain.

Some of the public’s reaction in Britain is as follows.

All those lives lost in WW2 just to be ruled by Nazi-s again. Those that died in WW2 must be somersaulting in their graves.- Vincent

When those who oppose some British Government policies like the welfare cutbacks, bank bailouts and banker bonuses, privatisation and illegal foreign wars (like me) or those who complain about injustice start disappearing, losing their citizenship, being renditioned and killed by armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV drones) then no one in any central or local government roles including ALL employees, councillors, MP’s, and other politicians can be trusted. The number of people who criticise the British Government will rapidly reduce when the secret courts starts. It will not affect organisations like the SWP, EDL, BNP as they are funded by the Zionists, Bankers and operated by the security services MI5 and MI6 in order to control and suppress dissent among the sheople.- Student

The silence from the British legal fraternity in academia and in legal practice is shocking and a shameful indictment on the” profit without ethics” system that has pervaded every aspect of British life today. Justice must not only be done but be SEEN to be done. Having secret courts is an attempt to avoid scrutiny of checks and balances, to ignore rules of evidence and deny an accused person the right to defend themself agianst the mighty apparatus of state.

– jam

That’s why UK raceist authorities have been busay to make fake-secret documents against people they have targeted. They abuse people in UK and claiming that they have secret information about them, the information they have fabricated. UK has returned back to the medieval time. – Pam Cox

UK abused people for years and now want to kill them through their secret court so that nobody will realise what happened to them. UK is just trying to destroy the evidence of their abuse and mistreatment for the past decade so that created a legal support for themselves. I’m sure that the lives of thousands innocent people in the UK are at risk. – A Solicitor

My God, my ancestors will be turning in their graves. The Tories are finally realising what they have long dreamed of – throughout the years of the post-war settlement, they moodily incubated a determination to reverse the social and economic gains fought for and won by people of unparalleled toughness and determination, people who took on the might of privilege and wealth and defeated it. This is the New Tory moment; this when they come out from behind their cosmetic masks of reasonableness and fairness and social concern and display their true dark hearts before the world.

But I reserve my greatest contempt for those of us on the left; this is all happening on our watch. We betray those people I mentioned above, who vanquished the landowners and the factory and coal owners. And what are WE up against? a couple of Bullingdon hooray-henries and a leadership reject with the political acumen of petrified bird droppings . But the neoliberal apologists and careerist politicians that have infested the Labour Movement see only the votes of bigoted Middle Englanders and the ignorant Sun reading dross that posts here waiting to be harvested. The latter busy calling for their own enslavement, too ignorant or misinformed to notice the turkey staring back at them in the mirror of a Christmas Morning. And in the new Dark Age heralded in by IDS, every morning will be Christmas Morning for the beneficiaries, the businesses who will exploit this measure to access free labour, the talk of charities being a transparent smoke screen to hide the fundamental dismantling of the human right for a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

Make no mistake, this is just the beginning. Anyone who thinks that once the principle of unpaid labour has breached the social repugnance it generates that it will stop at a month’s work for ‘idlers’ is the kind of fool the Tories are relying on get this through. These are the descendants of people who built vast fortunes and empires on the sweat and death of their factories and workhouses; they are past masters at dressing up inequality and evil in Protestant work ethics and biblical rhetoric denouncing the peril of idleness – except where it’s practised in its purest forms of course, by digital fortune shufflers and land owning parasites drawing their subsidies while they indulge Mediterranean waves with their oversized cock-yachts.

Shame, shame on us all. Tolstoy said everyone was innocent. I say everyone is guilty. And our children will never forgive us for allowing this to happen. The Tories talk of not saddling future generations with our debt; I think only of future generations facing the return of evils greater than any debt, that we had long thought banished from the lexicon of social intercourse and post war economics, all presented as some kind of economic panacea. Who is really ‘taking the piss’ here?

No doublethink, no prevarication, no quarter.

via UK OK Nazi Law – Indymedia Ireland.

via UK OK Nazi Law – Indymedia Ireland.

US sides with Iran and N. Korea in record UN vote over the death penalty


A record number of countries voted to abolish the death penalty, but the US sided with Iran and North Korea on the issue.

The vote tears apart traditional alliances at the United Nations. The United States, Japan, China, Iran, India, North Korea, Syria and Zimbabwe were among 39 countries to oppose the non-binding resolution in the assembly’s rights committee. Thirty-six countries abstained.

Israel voted against its strong US-ally to join European Union nations, Australia, Brazil and South Africa among major countries backing the motion.

Norway, which played a leading role campaigning for the resolution, said on its Twitter account that the increased support was a “great result”.

At the last vote in 2010, 107 countries backed the resolution.

France’s new Socialist government has launched a campaign with other abolitionist states to get the full General Assembly to pass a resolution in December calling for a death penalty moratorium. Though such a resolution would be non-binding, diplomats say it would increase moral pressure.

A world congress against the death penalty is to be held in Madrid in June.

According to the United Nations, about 150 countries have either abolished capital punishment or have instituted a moratorium.

Amnesty International says that China executed “thousands” of prisoners in 2011 though exact figures are hard to determine. It says that other countries put to death at least 680 people with Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia major users of capital punishment.

Amnesty says that progress is slowly being made however. Even in the United States, Illinois last year became the 16th US state to abolish the death penalty.

via US sides with Iran and N. Korea in record UN vote over the death penalty – Telegraph.

via US sides with Iran and N. Korea in record UN vote over the death penalty – Telegraph.

Over 18,000 sign petition demanding equal access to healthcare


AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL IRELAND has presented more than 18,000 signatures calling for equal access to healthcare based on income to Leinster House today.

The petition which was organised by Amnesty International Ireland as part of its Right to Health campaign, which holds that everyone in Ireland has the right to health – and that the country committed to this when it became party to the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1989.

The signatories of the petition have called on the Minister for Health to enshrine in law a commitment to provide equal access to healthcare based on the needs of the patient rather than their ability to pay.

Government has set out an ambitious programme of reform. But the reality is that our health system is broken, people are still on waiting lists, and families are struggling to pay their increasing insurance premiums”, Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International in Ireland, said today.

“Access to appropriate, affordable health services is a human right, and one which the Irish public are clearly demanding. Government reforms of the health service must be underpinned by human rights standards, including a legal guarantee that everybody will be able to access healthcare on an equal basis,” he added.

Amnesty International is calling on the Government to set out their plans on universal healthcare reform and to debate them publicly.

The human rights organisation also wants the Government to use the opportunity of the proposed Universal Primary Care Act and the Universal Health Insurance Act to set out clear – and human rights compliant – guiding principles for the health service including universal, equal access to care.

via Over 18,000 sign petition demanding equal access to healthcare.

via Over 18,000 sign petition demanding equal access to healthcare.

Amnesty International launches its Write for Rights Campaign


Katherine Allen is the Director of Amnesty International

As 2012 begins to draw to a close I will once again reflect on the people I have been privileged to meet. This year, two courageous individuals stand out, both indomitable figures in Burma‘s struggle for human rights.

Both Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Zarganar – one of Burma’s most famous comedians who poked fun at the government – dared to stand up and speak out for the people of Burma, and they did so knowing that they faced the prospect of abuse, harassment, arrest and long-term imprisonment. For Amnesty supporters it wasn’t just a privilege to be able to stand with these and other human rights defenders, many of us saw it as a necessity.

Zarganar

So when Zarganar took to the stage of the Secret Policeman’s Ball in New York earlier this year after having had his 59-year prison sentence commuted only a few months before, and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi received Amnesty International‘s Ambassador of Conscience Award in Dublin, making her first visit to the UK and Ireland in nearly 25 years, not only was I honoured to meet two of the bravest human rights activists of our time, I was also reminded of the indelible impact which the support and the solidarity of Amnesty activists can have in helping to achieve enduring positive change for others.

This is why I am so delighted that Amnesty International launches its Write for Rights Campaign today. Here is a wonderful opportunity to be able to voice our support and stand with women and men much like Aung San Suu Kyi and Zarganar; women and men who have bravely dared to defend their human rights even at the risk of persecution and harassment.

Featured in this year’s Campaign are the Pussy Riot duo who have been imprisoned for daring to freely express their opinion in Russia. They are currently facing years of imprisonment in arduous conditions in two separate labour colonies.

A brave young women’s movement in Afghanistan called Young Women for Change also features in this year’s Write for Rights Campaign, as does Azza Suleiman, a 49-year-old woman from Egypt who was seriously beaten by security forces in Tahrir Square during the uprising, after she went to the aide of another woman who was being beaten by soldiers. Azza was beaten so badly she now has a fractured skull and suffers from memory loss. This brave woman is now calling for the perpetrators of this abuse to be brought to justice, and we must stand with her.

We must also stand with Hakamada Iwao – one of the world’s longest serving inmates on death row. Hakamada has languished on death row for 44 years in Japan. Amnesty considers his case to have been unfair and is calling for a commutation to his death sentence.

The joy of meeting brave men and women like Zarganar is made all the sweeter in knowing that we have stood shoulder to shoulder with them in their darker days, even though we were thousands of miles away going about our own lives. On the days when it seemed as though there was no hope for them, Amnesty persisted in its support. Amnesty’s Write for Rights Campaign gives thousands of people throughout the UK the chance to send a message of solidarity, whether it be a letter or a card of support, or taking a photo in solidarity. It will only take five minutes to take action, but the impact could last a lifetime.

The days for the likes of Azza and Hakamada may seem dark now. But I urge you to join me in standing in solidarity with them now. Because when we see the success achieved for them, the joy is all the sweet

via Kate Allen: Just Five Minutes to Take Action, the Impact Could Last a Lifetime.

via Kate Allen: Just Five Minutes to Take Action, the Impact Could Last a Lifetime.

MovieBabble

The Casual Way to Discuss Movies

OLD HOLLYWOOD IN COLOR

...because it was never black & white

LEANNE COLE

Art and Practice

CURNBLOG

Movies, thoughts, thoughts about movies.

FilmBunker

Saving you from one cinematic disaster at a time.

From 1 Blogger 2 Another

Sharing Great Blog Posts

Wonders in the Dark

Cinema, music, opera, books, television, theater

Just Reviews

Just another WordPress.com site

Mark David Welsh

Watching the strangest movies - so you don't have to...

conradbrunstrom

Things I never thunk before.

News from the San Diego Becks

The life and times of Erik, Veronica and Thomas

The Silent Film Quarterly

The Only Magazine Dedicated To Silent Cinema

Leaden Circles

First a warning, musical; then the hour, irrevocable. The leaden circles dissolved in the air.

My Archives

because the internet is not forever

CineSocialUK

Up to the minute, fair, balanced, informed film reviews.

PUZZLED PAGAN PRESENTS

A Shrine to Pop Culture Obsessiveness. With Lots of Spoilers

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear

“Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be” – Peter DeVries

thedullwoodexperiment

Viewing movies in a different light

Twenty Four Frames

Notes on Film by John Greco

Suzanne's Mom's Blog

Arts, Nature, Family, Good Works, Luna & Stella Birthstone Jewelry

It Doesn't Have To Be Right...

... it just has to sound plausible

NJ Corporate Portrait Photographer Blog

The life of a corporate portrait photographer who likes to shoot just about anything.

arwenaragornstar

A French girl's musings...

Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)

Australian movie blog - like Margaret and David, just a little younger

Octopus Films

A place for new perspectives on films, TV, media and entertainment.

scifist 2.0

A sci-fi movie history in reviews

The Reviewer's Corner

The Sometimes Serious Corner of the Internet for Anime, Manga, and Comic Reviews

First Impressions

Notes on Films and Culture

1,001 Movies Reviewed Before You Die

Where I Review One of the 1,001 Movies You Should Watch Before you Die Every Day

Movies Galore of Milwaukee

Movie Galore takes a look at Silent films on up to current in development projects and gives their own opinion on what really does happen in film!

The Catwing Has Landed

A Writer's Blog About Life and Random Things

mibih.wordpress.com/

Anime - Movies - Wrestling

Gabriel Diego Valdez

Movies and how they change you.

The Horror Incorporated Project

Lurking among the corpses are the body snatchers....plotting their next venture into the graveyard....the blood in your veins will run cold, your spine tingle, as you look into the terror of death in tonight's feature....come along with me into the chamber of horrors, for an excursion through.... Horror Incorporated!

Relatos desde mi ventana

Sentimientos, emociones y reflexiones

Teri again

Finding Me; A site about my life before and after a divorce

unveiled rhythms

Life In Verses

Gareth Roberts

Unorthodox Marketing & Strategy

leeg schrift

Taalarmen

100 Films in a Year

12 months. 100 films. Hopefully.

%d bloggers like this: