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economy

Exporters not thinking about human rights?

Published tisdag 22 februari 2011 kl 13.48
"Sweden does have international human rights obligations"
(6:10 min)
Protestors in Tripoli, Libya. Photo: Alaguri/Scanpix.

The Swedish government is currently doing all it can to evacuate Swedes from Libya, according to Swedish Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt. Many of those Swedes will be working for Swedish companies that have dealings with the Gaddafi dictatorship, such as Ericsson and ABB. Trade between Sweden and Libya was worth over US$ 150 million in 2008, but according to a new report the Swedish government isn't enforcing its own demands that the impact of an export sale on human rights always has to be taken into account.

Anna Gustafsson from Amnesty Sweden is one of the authors of the report, she says all exports, especially those to undemocratic regimes should be judged on a case by case basis.

"There needs to be an assessment, as to if this deal or the exports will be used in a way to perhaps aid the human rights violations. So every deal has to be assessed against human rights criteria. That's what we ask of Swedish companies, and of Swedish state-owned export promoting agencies," she told Radio Sweden.

Every since 2003 such assessments are supposed to be mandatory, according to guidelines set up by the Swedish government, but Amnesty's Anna Gustafsson says that isn't happening.

"There are no specific requirements from the state to its export promoting agencies, that they should always should always make sure that the deals that they promote do not result in human rights violations."

But if Sweden doesn't sell to undemocratic regimes, surely some other country will?

"I think that is a non-argument, frankly, because Sweden does have international human rights obligations that we need to live up to and that's what we need to have as our principle, and then we could always try and make sure that other countries do the same by putting pressure on them in international fora, but our first principle should be not to do it ourselves."

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