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Human Rights Organizations to sue the Federal Ministry of Economics in Germany

HermesbrgschaftThree Organizations want to fight for the right to documents on export credit guarantees after human hights records are not being disclosed. On Monday the Human Rights Organizations Amnesty International in Germany, Urgewald and GegenStrömung brought forward action against the federal ministry, who had denied a claim by the organizations to disclose information on human rights protection for the allocations of export credit guarantees.







9 December, 2013 | Amnesty International, urgewald, Gegenströmung

Amnesty International Germany, urgewald and Gegenströmung Press Release

Human Rights Organizations to sue the Federal Ministry of Economics in Germany

Three Organizations want to fight for the right to documents on
export credit guarantees after human hights records are not being disclosed.

On Monday the Human Rights Organizations Amnesty International in Germany, urgewald and GegenStrömung brought forward action against the federal ministry, who had denied a claim by the organizations to disclose information on human rights protection for the allocations of export credit guarantees. The responsible ministry of economics claims that it takes sufficient consideration of human rights in the allocation of export credit guarantees. Meanwhile the authority refuses to make the corresponding information public. This does not stipulate trust, Verena Haan who is responsible for Economics and Human Rights at Amnesty International Germany, explained.

With the claim before the administrative court in Berlin, the three organizations want to comprehend how the German federal government checks the potential human rights consequences of the facilitated projects. Back in July 2012 they had already requested insight into the inspection reports for a number of projects. They for example inquired on the coal mining and dam projects and power stations in countries such as Kazakhstan, Mauritius, Tadzhikistan, Azerbaijan and Turkey, as well as on projects in Belarus. Regine Richter of urgewald criticized that “In these countries and branches human rights violations are probably on the daily agenda. This leads to dispossessions and environmental destruction, as well as the disregarding of employment rights and of freedom of speech. Therefore we want to know exactly how businesses comply with their human rights obligations. The German federal government however treats the information like a state secret.”

Grounds for the claim are the freedom to information and the environmental information rights, that are meant to bestow free and arbitrary access to ministerial information. In the refusal of the three organizations’s request the ministry of economics named the protection of the internal authority’s consultations, confidentially levied information and international relations as well as trade secrets as reasons. Heike Drillisch of GegenStrömung in response said “we made it clear, that the request was restricted to the environmental and social parts of the inspection reports, and that we are in no way interested in other sensitive data. That this request was fully denied is inacceptable and contradicts the laws. That is why we are now suing.”

In 2012 the Bundesregierung sponsored the exports and investments of German businesses in developing and emerging countries with almost 30 billion Euros in line with the foreign trade and investment promotion. The ministry of economics decides upon the export credit guarantees in consensus with the ministries of finance, of foreign affairs and of development. The UN- led principles for economics and human rights from 2011 depicts the foreign trade and investment promotion as an area, in which human rights diligence is highlty imperative.

The German press release can be found here:

http://www.gegenstroemung.org/drupal/sites/default/files/+PM_2013-12-09_Menschenrechtsorganisationen%20verklagen%20Bundeswirtschaftsministerium.pdf

 

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