A new Bill has been published by the UK Government which looks to prevent public bodies from making procurement and investment choices based on ethical grounds.
Campaign groups including Amnesty have hit out at the proposals, describing them as ‘outrageous’. It is believed the motivation in part comes from a desire to prevent regional governments from opposing human rights violations in Palestine at the hands of Israel, which is given unique status within the legislation.
However, the plan should also raise environmental alarm bells, with climate justice increasingly interlinked with human and civil rights. Only recently, an attempt by authorities in Montana, US, to introduce legislation blocking environmental law suits was deemed unconstitutional, and the state was found guilty of failing to provide a safe and healthy environment for residents – infringing on their rights as citizens.
‘This bill is an unwarranted encroachment on the ability of public bodies to pursue ethical procurement and investment policies. It’s outrageous that the Government is trying to prevent councils from using their procurement budgets to leverage positive human rights change,’ said Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s Chief Executive.
‘People who care about issues such as climate justice or the arms trade will be dismayed by this legislation, seeing it as a door slammed in their face,’ they continued. ‘If this pernicious bill becomes law, it will close off a key means to hold companies to account and once again show that this Government thinks little of the plight of persecuted communities around the world.’
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