Human Rights on Thin Ice

REPORT | 6 May 2014
The Tjizjovka Arena. Foto: Radio Svoboda .

Forced labour and violations of human rights have taken place in direct connection with the organising of the Ice Hockey World Championships in Belarus.

Yet, neither the Swedish Ice Hockey Association (SIF), nor its main sponsors have acted so that human rights will be respected during the Championships.

The country of Belarus has one of the most repressive regimes in the world and is one of Europe’s last remaining dictatorships. The Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008 and Sochi in 2014 have demonstrated that human rights situations risk worsening when repressive regimes are granted major competitions. This same problem has faced the Ice Hockey World Championships in Belarus.

The report Mänskliga rättigheter på hal is (”Human Rights on Thin Ice”) shows that the Belarussian regime has used forced labour in the construction of the Tjizjovka arena. Defenders of human rights have been threatened and expulsions of addicts and the homeless have taken place. Several persons on the European Union’s list of sanctions of Belarussian persons and companies connected to the violations of human rights sit on the organising committee of the Championships.

In the report, the SIF and its main sponsors; Svenska spel, Scandic Hotels, ŠKODA, Kyocera and Bauhaus, state that the situation in Belarus is problematic. But despite the fact that SIF voted for Belarus as host, and despite the Championship in Minsk being a part of the sponsors’ value chain, neither SIF nor the sponsors have conducted human rights due diligence in connection with the event.

The report recommends that SIF adopts a policy for human rights and makes efforts for clear requirements to be placed on future host countries. Sponsors are called upon to follow the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, meaning that they have a responsibility to minimise negative impacts on human rights through their own activities and the activities of their business partners.
Please find the english summary to the right. The full report has not been translated.

Read also Swedtach’s report The Olympic Violations from January 2014, showing how the Swedish Olympic movement lacks a human rights policy. Following the report, the Swedish Olympic Committee and its sponsors united to place stricter requirements on future Olympic hosts.

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