Press Release / July 7, 2009

British government must do more to control companies

Campaign group Global Witness will today present oral evidence to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Business and Human Rights in a last minute addition to the hearing schedules.

To complement Global Witness' written submission and the earlier testimonies of NGOs on 9 June 2009, Gavin Hayman, Director of Campaigns, and Seema Joshi, Legal Advisor, will focus on the UK Government's role in preventing abuses by UK based companies operating in conflict affected areas.

Gavin Hayman said: "The UK has just announced it will give £1bn a year in aid to conflict-affected countries. But this will be undermined unless it does more to address the role that UK companies play in funding, facilitating or enabling these conflicts to continue."

Global Witness will highlight case studies of UK companies' activities in conflict areas and recommend steps the UK Government can take to minimise the risk of a company being complicit in human rights abuses abroad. 

Hayman: "In the past the UK Government has not done enough to deter abuses by UK companies in places where host governments are either unwilling or unable to safeguard human rights. British companies trading in minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo are a prime example."  

"The UK Government has the opportunity to be a world leader in this field. It must work to ensure that UK companies are benefiting civilian populations in the developing world, not exacerbating the desperate situations people find themselves in through no fault of their own."

Details of hearing:

Location: Committee Room 5, Palace of Westminster  

Time: 13:45 until 15:00

Testimony can be viewed at

Available for interviews:

Gavin Hayman: 020 7561 6361; 07843 058756

Seema Joshi: 020 7561 6390