Austrian Firm Should Delay Investment Pending Abolition of Child Executions
(16 April, 2008) The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran is urging the Austrian energy company Österreichische Mineralölverwaltung (OMV) to delay finalization of a 22 billion EURO investment agreement with the National Iranian Oil Company until Iran authorities agree to end the execution of children. The Campaign also calls on OMV to support an end to the persecution of Iranian labor activists.
“OMV can lead the world business community in applying a standard of corporate social responsibility consistent with its own Code of Conduct, in which the firm pledges to ‘use every suitable opportunity to encourage the observation of human rights even outside the area of our direct responsibility,’” Aaron Rhodes, a spokesman for the Campaign said.“The long-term viability of Iran as a political and economic partner for Europe can only be guaranteed by more respect for international law, and by ending abhorrent practices that are utterly at variance with international norms,” he added.
Iran executes more minors than any other country, and currently 107 individuals, including many still under 18, face execution in Iran for crimes committed while they were children. Since 2004, Iran has accounted for 73% of all juvenile executions worldwide, in violation of its commitments as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Covenant on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The number of executions of all types has increased by 362% since 2005 when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became president. According to Amnesty International, Iran executes more people than any other country in the world except China.
Many of the executions in Iran, including those of children, occur after confessions extracted under torture. Trials regularly fall far short of international standards for due process. The penal code criminalizes consensual sexual acts and places women and girls in an unfair position that results in their prosecution and execution more often than men. Executions by stoning can still occur.
The Iranian government has ignored all appeals to respect and uphold international human rights standards. Iran has refused to cooperate with the United Nations human rights mechanisms and has stopped a dialogue with the European Union about human rights. Iran also refuses independent international human rights monitors access to the country and the possibility to engage in constructive and cooperative efforts to address its violations of international human rights laws.
The Campaign urged OMV to encourage and support a forum including international experts and representatives of the Iranian government to address the widespread execution of minors in Iran. The Iranian government should be held accountable to publicly state why Iran is the only country continuing to apply death penalty for children in large numbers and in violation of its international commitments.
The Campaign has urged the Austrian government, which owns 31% of OMV, to use its influence to help end child executions in Iran.
“OMV and the Austrian government have leverage they should not squander by failing to raise human rights in the context of the deal. OMV should negotiate in a manner consistent with the human rights standards upheld by Austria and the European Union, and in the best interests of the Iranian people who are stakeholders in its proposed project,” Rhodes said.
According to the OMV’s Code of Conduct, the firm respects “freedom of association and the rights to collective bargaining” as per the United Nations Global Compact, a set of principles to guide the behavior of international corporations, and the International Labor Organization (ILO). But Iran consistently detains and prosecutes workers who try to form labor unions, and many are currently imprisoned and have been tortured and beaten.
OMV officials have assured representatives of the Campaign that OMV’s chairman, Wolfgang Ruttenstorfer, would be informed of the Campaign’s concerns and proposals.