World’s Largest Pension Fund Must Divest from Hikvision and Dahua, Chinese Companies Supporting Mass Internment and Surveillance

For immediate Release
March 13, 2020 1:45 pm
Contacts: Nicole Morgret +1 202-478-1920 (o), Omer Kanat +1 202-790-1795 (m)

 

The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP), in a joint open letter this week, called on the Government Pension Fund of Norway (the “Oil Fund”) to immediately divest from Hikvision and Dahua. These Chinese companies specialize in surveillance equipment and services directly used for the mass detention of Uyghurs and other Turkic groups in the Uyghur region of China.

Since 2016, Hikvision, the world’s largest maker of surveillance cameras, and Dahua, a large provider of video surveillance products and services, have won a combined total of over $1 billion in Chinese government-backed contracts in the Uyghur region.

UHRP Executive Director Omer Kanat said of the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, “Continued investment by the Oil Fund sends the exact wrong signal to the rest of the world. Hikvision and Dahua cameras are being used to persecute the Uyghurs. It is sickening to think that a democratic government is earning profits by owning shares in these companies.”

Hikvision and Dahua products have been used to monitor and suppress Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other religious and ethnic groups, including the mass arbitrary detention of at least 1 million in internment camps. The issue has been repeatedly raised by human rights groups, the European Union, the UN and by the Norwegian Government itself.

Recent investigative reporting has demonstrated Hikvision’s current use of cameras to specifically identify Uyghur faces as well as their close connection with the security forces in the Uyghur region.

Both companies were added to a US trade blacklist in October 2019, which includes 20 Chinese public security bureaus and six other companies, all implicated in human rights violations against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims, including mass detention and surveillance. 

The Oil Fund has made a strong public commitment to responsible investing. It recognizes a set of international standards that includes integrating human rights into company policies and strategy, reporting on salient human rights issues, and engaging transparently on human rights through grievance mechanisms, as well as compliance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

The letter was also signed by the Norwegian Uyghur Committee, World Uyghur Congress, Rafto Foundation for Human Rights, Norwegian Helsinki Committee and Norwegian PEN.

A copy of the letter can be read as a PDF here or below:

 

Open Letter Calling on Norway Oil Fund Divestment from Hikvision and Dahua

March 11, 2020

We, a coalition of six human rights organizations, write to express our serious concerns regarding investments held by the Government Pension Fund of Norway (also known as the “Oil Fund”), in Chinese technology companies Hikvision Digital Technology and Zhejiang Dahua Technology, both of which are directly implicated in gross and continued human rights violations in the Uyghur region of China. The Fund must take immediate steps to divest from both companies.

Hikvision, the world’s largest maker of surveillance cameras, and Dahua, a large provider of video surveillance products and services, have both won more than $1 billion worth of Chinese government-backed contracts in the Uyghur region since 2016

Hikvision and Dahua products and services have been used by the Chinese government to monitor and suppress Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other religious and ethnic groups, including the mass arbitrary detention of at least 1 million in internment camps. The issue has been repeatedly raised by human rights groups, the European Union, the UN and by the Norwegian Government itself, on a number of occasions.

Both companies were added to a US trade blacklist in October 2019 which includes 20 Chinese public security bureaus and six other companies, all implicated in human rights violations against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims including mass detention and surveillance.

The Oil Fund makes clear its focus on responsible investment. It recognizes a set of international standards which includes integrating human rights into company policies and strategy, reporting on salient human rights issues, and engaging transparently on human rights through grievance mechanisms. The Oil Fund also has expressed its support for, and compliance with, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

These standards could not be further from those adopted by Hikvision and Dahua. Both companies qualify for observation or exclusion according to section 3 (a.) of the Fund’s own guidelines:

“Companies may be put under observation or be excluded if there is an unacceptable risk that the company contributes to or is responsible for: a) serious or systematic human rights violations, such as murder, torture, deprivation of liberty, forced labour and the worst forms of child labour [...]”

Norway’s Oil Fund is by no means the only culprit, however. A growing number of investment funds, corporations and other entities have publicly disclosed investments in these companies and continue to do so.

While immediate divestment will not solve the human rights crisis, it would send a clear signal to these investors that the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund is not interested in supporting those that participate in, or enable, gross and systematic human rights violations. It would likewise ensure that the Oil Fund does not continue to profit from those violations going forward.

While we acknowledge that the Fund’s Ethical Council has indicated greater attention to investigating whether technology companies’ tools are being used for “improper surveillance”, the time is now to seriously reassess its investments in Hikvision and Dahua and to take appropriate action to ensure it complies with its own ethical standards.

Sincerely,

Norwegian Helsinki Committee

Norwegian PEN

Norwegian Uyghur Committee

Rafto Foundation for Human Rights

Uyghur Human Rights Project

World Uyghur Congress

 

For media inquiries, please contact:

Adiljan Abdurihim, Norwegian Uyghur Committee: info@uigurene.no

Peter Irwin, Uyghur Human Rights Project: pirwin@uhrp.org

Ryan Barry, World Uyghur Congress: ryan.barry@uyghurcongress.org