December 9, 2019

As the Burmese military face charges of genocide at the International Court of Justice, Burma Campaign UK today called on companies in business with the Burmese military to immediately end their business relationships.

“If your business partner is on trial for genocide at one of the highest courts in the world, you might want to reconsider whether it’s a business relationship you should be in,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK.

On 10th-12th December, the International Court of Justice will begin hearing charges of genocide brought by Gambia under the Genocide Convention.

Burma Campaign UK publishes a ‘Dirty List’ of international companies doing business with the Burmese military, or which are linked to human rights violations in the country. The list is available here: 80 companies are currently listed with around 30 more due to be added when the list is updated early next year.

The International Criminal Court has also authorised a full investigation into crimes associated with the deportation of the Rohingya into Bangladesh. The scope of the investigation allows the Prosecutor of the Court to also investigate those complicit in these crimes. That potentially opens the door to executives in companies in business with the military, and thereby helping to fund their operations, facing trial at the International Criminal Court.

Burma Campaign UK is also calling on embassies in Burma to ensure they have policies in place to ensure that they do not source from military companies, and that donors have policies in place to ensure aid money is not spent buying goods or services from military companies. Without such policies in place there is a risk that aid money will end up in the hands of the military and will help fund genocide. To date, Burma Campaign UK is only aware of the British embassy and Department for International Development having such policies in place.

The United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, which investigated human rights violations in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States, has called for sanctions on military companies. The Burmese military has significant business interests within Burma, including in rice, beans and pulses, beer, cement, iron and steel, cigarettes, gems, television and publishing and mobile phone networks. It is an important source of funding for them.

“This case at the International Court of Justice is only the beginning,” said Mark Farmaner. “Executives in companies doing business with the military face not just reputational damage to themselves and their companies, but also potential criminal investigations for complicity with crimes against humanity and war crimes.”

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