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Germany promotes laws to severely punish businesses complicit in human rights violations in Xinjiang

Under the newly introduced “Supply Chain Law”, German companies must withdraw from Xinjiang or face fines and even criminal liability.

Uighur women in Xinjiang (Source: Shutterstock)

According to experts from the German lower house, the “Supply Chain Law” introduced by the Government in March has created a new legal situation. Although the United Nations “Guiding Principles on Industry, Trade and Human Rights” (UNGPs) require global companies to respect human rights wherever they operate, the point is That principle is not legally binding.

But this situation in Germany will change when the “Supply Chain Law” comes into effect. The draft law stipulates that if large German companies turn a blind eye to human rights violations and environmental pollution caused by their suppliers, they will be fined up to 2% of their annual revenue.

The German Parliament’s report points out that with the “Supply Chain Law” in effect, if German companies are aware of the CCP’s repression of human rights, they “have an obligation to cut business ties with Chinese suppliers”. Otherwise, the German company will face fines. In particular cases, they can also be prosecuted for criminal liability.

According to the report, the CCP is committing genocide in Xinjiang. Because from publicly available information and reports related to the CCP’s treatment of the Uighurs in Xinjiang, it can be shown that, objectively, the 5 elements constituting the crime specified in Article 2 of the “Convention on the Crime of Genocide”. As a result, German companies may soon be forced to restrict their business activities in Xinjiang, or pull out of it altogether.

Direct reports indicate that many foreign companies, including German ones, have profited from the exploitation of Uighur labor in Xinjiang. There are companies that source products directly from forced labor factories or cooperate with suppliers that use forced labor; there are companies with factories in Xinjiang near CCP detention centers and re-education camps. The German companies mentioned in the report are: Adidas, Puma, BMW, Bosch, Siemens, Volkswagen and BASF.

Germany’s Green Party called on German companies to be held accountable for the consequences. Margarete Bause, the Green Party’s human rights policy spokeswoman in the Bundestag, said the report showed the responsibility “more clearly than ever” of German companies operating in Xinjiang.

She pointed out, in such a situation, German businesses must seriously consider the issue of whether to continue to maintain trade relations with Xinjiang or not. The National Assembly’s report sent a clear message: “Turn a blind eye is not an option”.

Recently, there have been continuous similar moves from the Parliaments of Canada, the Netherlands and the UK, which in turn passed resolutions condemning genocide against the Uighurs in Xinjiang. Margarete Bause stressed that the German Bundestag also “has a responsibility to propose all action plans to end the systematic and large-scale human rights crimes in Xinjiang”.

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