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Proposed EU law must stamp out trade in conflict minerals for good

A diamond mine in the Central African Republic. ©Amnesty International

What European governments are proposing has already flat-out failed to stop trading in conflict minerals, the profits from which can be used to fund armed groups inflicting insufferable violence on local communities

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
NEWSFLASH

Brussels – 1 February 2016

European Union (EU) governments must drastically strengthen a proposed law designed to ensure minerals used in phones and laptops do not fuel human rights abuses across the globe, said a coalition of organisations including Amnesty International.

EU institutions begin talks on the new legislation in Strasbourg today. The European Parliament has strongly backed proposals that would force European companies to carry out checks that lessen the risk their suppliers are trading in so called ‘conflict minerals’. But EU governments only want voluntary checks that are weaker than the international standards they have previously agreed to.

There are strong grounds to believe that profits from the trade of conflict minerals with European companies have financed armed groups and led to human rights violations in countries ravaged by conflict.

“What European governments are proposing has already flat-out failed to stop trading in conflict minerals, the profits from which can be used to fund armed groups inflicting insufferable violence on local communities,” said Iverna McGowan, Head of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office.

“Only a strong, mandatory law can ensure people in the EU are not buying products that fuel serious human rights abuses on a daily basis.”

Amnesty International’s recent report “This is what we die for” showed how voluntary checks are failing to stop major electronics companies making products with cobalt mined by child labourers. If voluntary regulations proposed by the European Council are approved, European standards will slip behind those of the United States, China and several African countries.

ENDS

Interviewees available on request

For interviews or further comments please contact Paul Creeney by phone on +32 (0)2 548 27 74, by mobile on +32 (0)486 042 047 or by email at pcreeney@amnesty.eu.