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Privacy International et al. vs. Gamma International

Case overview

Date filed 1 February 2013
Current status Concluded
Issue Gamma & Trovicor export surveillance technology to Bahrain
Summary of the case The complaint alleges that Gamma and Trovicor are selling intrusive surveillance technology and training to the Bahraini government where this technology is allegedly used to target human rights activists. By doing so, and by continuing to maintain the technologies, Gamma and Trovicor are alleged to be aiding and abetting the Bahraini government in its perpetration of human rights abuses, including violations of the right to privacy, freedom of expression and freedom of association, as well as arbitrary arrest and torture.
Developments/Outcome In November 2013, the German NCP offered to mediate a discussion about Trovicors management system, but it would not consider the companys role in human rights abuses in Bahrain. The NCP argued that the allegations were not substantiated.
The complainants disputed the NCPs decision and argued that they had provided sufficient evidence about Trovicors business relationship with the Bahraini government.

After the NCP refused to change its stance, the complainants refused mediation on 30 January 2014. The NCP issued its final statement “terminating” the case on 21 May 2014.

The Gamma case was accepted by the UK NCP on 24 June 2013 even though the NCP found that direct evidence about the companys supply of surveillance technology and training had not been provided by the complainants.

While the UK NCP appointed an external mediator, the process had several flaws. The parties did not have an agreed agenda before they met, and information about who would represent the company was not provided.

Gamma was represented by an external lawyer who was not authorised to take decisions and did not have knowledge of the relevant technical issues. The complainants were prepared to discuss the substance of their complaint while the Gamma representative only wanted to agree to additional dates for mediation. After one meeting, the process entailed written statements by the parties to come to an agreement.

After mediation did not result in an agreement the UK NCP proceeded with issuing its final statement on the case. Given the costs involved for complainants to attend mediation, the parties note that the NCP should ensure mediation is conducted effectively.

In its final statement issued in December 2014 the UK NCP confirms many of the issues raised in the complaint and finds that Gammas actions were inconsistent with a number of OECD Guidelines provisions. The NCP criticised Gamma for failing to put in place a due diligence process and commit to any binding standards for the observance of human rights. The NCP also considers that the companys overall engagement with the NCP process has been unsatisfactory.

Although the UK NCP was unable to verify the allegation that Gamma is linked to abuses through a supply to Bahrain, its recommendations to Gamma broadly apply to the companys future trading. The NCP recommends Gamma to participate in industry best practice schemes and discussions and to reconsider its communication strategy to offer the most transparent and consistent engagement. The NCP further recommends the company to co-operate with official remedy processes used by victims where it identifies that its products may have been misused.

In November 2015, the NCP expects an update from both parties to assess if the recommendations have been followed up.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
Case keywords Human rights, Multiple NCPs

NCP Information

NCP name National Contact Point United Kingdom
NCP address 1-19 Victoria Street SW1H 0ET London, United Kingdom
NCP website www.berr.gov.uk
Other NCPs involved

Complainants

NGO

Company Information

Company responsible Gamma International UK Ltd
Company address
Company website
Company in violation Gamma International UK Ltd
Country of operations Bahrain
Other companies involved

Timeline of developments

Date Actor Action Description Document
21 May 2014 National Contact Point United Kingdom statement UK NCP's final statement in case against Gamma download pdf (340Kb)  
24 June 2013 Privacy International press release Complainants issue press relase after acceptance of complaint against Gamma download pdf (141Kb)  
21 June 2013 National Contact Point United Kingdom accept UK NCP accepts complaint against Gamma download pdf (60Kb)  
7 February 2013 Privacy International report Background documentation for the OECD complaint. download pdf (185Kb)  
1 February 2013 Privacy International file Privacy International et al. have filed their complaint at the UK NCP. download pdf (69Kb)  

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