Human rights group calls on EU to ban Belaruskali

05 September 2013 15:31 Source:ICIS News

LONDON (ICIS)--A human rights pressure group on Thursday called on the EU to extend its trade sanctions against Belarus to include potash major Belaruskali and export group Belarusian Potash Company (BPC).

The group, Belarusians in Exile, said that an independent legal report by a British law firm showed that Belaruskali is directly controlled by the Belarus state and the country's ruling regime.

As such, Belaruskali and its export group BPC should be included in the EU’s “black-list” of persons and entities linked to the Belarusian regime, the group said.

The EU’s sanctions, which have been in force since May 2006, are due to be renewed in October.

However, Belarusians in Exile said that in its current form the sanctions were not effective. Instead, trade between Belarus and the members of the EU continued to increase, with the EU being Belarus’ second largest trading partner after Russia, the group said.

“The current EU restrictive measures and sanctions have proved to be completely ineffective in forcing [Belarus’] regime to provide basic human rights and political freedom,” said Jamison Firestone, a spokesman for the group.

“They do not cover the key organisations supporting the regime nor do they have the crippling effect that would be achieved by sectoral embargoes,” Firestone said.

The legal report provided “irrefutable evidence” that Belaruskali and BPC generate substantial revenue for the regime under President Alexander Lukashenko and thus needed to be added to the list of banned entities, he said. 

The EU needs to send a clear message: change or we will kick where it hurts,” Firestone added.

By Stefan Baumgarten