EU Parliament Removes Hikvision, Citing Human Rights AbusesBy Charles Rollet, Published Apr 29, 2021, 10:35am EDT
The EU Parliament voted to remove its Hikvision fever cameras due to human rights abuses, passing an amendment with 89.4% of 701 MEPs voting in favor on Wednesday.
The EU Parliament confirmed to IPVM that they have already removed the Hikvision cameras.
The EU Parliament installed Hikvision fever cameras in 2020, Germany's DW reported last October, noting the company's human rights record in Xinjiang. The report sparked a significant outcry with various Members of EU Parliament (MEPs) calling for the cameras to be removed.
MEP's Amendment Passes
An amendment ('Amendment 30') from Dutch MEP Lara Wolters calling for the EU Secretary General to "terminate the contract with Hikvision and remove all of Hikvision’s thermal cameras from Parliament’s premises" was passed at a vote yesterday, MEP Wolters' team confirmed to IPVM. In full, the amendment reads:
Highlights recent media reports that the thermal cameras in use in Parliament's premises for measuring the temperature of all persons entering Parliament are produced by Hikvision, a company importing from China and producing cameras for Xinjiang province in China; recalls that Hikvision has been accused of providing surveillance equipment to internment camps in this province; notes that there is an unacceptable risk that Hikvision, through its operations in Xinjiang, is contributing to serious human rights abuses; recalls that Parliament awarded the 2019 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Ilham Tohti for his efforts to protect the rights of the Uyghur population in China; considers the use of thermal cameras of this provider in Parliament's premises therefore to be unacceptable; calls on the Secretary General to terminate the contract with Hikvision and remove all of Hikvision’s thermal cameras from Parliament’s premises; stresses the need for the administration to be more prudent in the selection of equipment providers in the future [emphasis added]
The amendment was passed by an overwhelming majority of MEPs present: 627 voted to pass it, while 37 voted against and 37 abstained:
Next Step: Secretary General Implements Resolution
The EU's Secretary General "will now have to implement the text's call" and "report back" later on "how it has implemented the resolution's recommendations", Lara Wolters' staff told IPVM:
the Secretary General will now have to implement the text's call, i.e. the call to remove the cameras and ensure due diligence in subsequent procurement procedures of Parliament. The Secretary-General needs to report back to the budgetary control (CONT) committee later this year on how it has implemented the resolution's recommendations, including the call regarding Hikvision. [emphasis added]
Indeed, IPVM confirmed with EU Parliament spokesperson Delphine Colard that the Hikvision cameras have already been removed.
MEP Criticizes Hikvision "Intimidation"
In a video uploaded to Twitter, MEP Wolters said "Hikvision products have no place" in Parliament and alleged Hikvision pushed back against her amendment "rather aggressively", stating "we should not give in to intimidation":
At the start of the pandemic this Parliament installed thermal cameras from a Chinese company named Hikvision. This is a company that faces well-documented accusations of supplying surveillance equipment to camps detaining Uyghurs in the Chinese region of Xinjiang. You will understand my surprise when I proposed to remove the cameras the company rather aggressively approached me and other members to withdraw this call. Let me be clear we should not give in to intimidation. I think the incident shows us the important of supply chain responsibility and responsible business conduct. Businesses that fail to respect human rights should not be part of EU supply chains. The parliament should lead by example here and I therefore repeat my position: Hikvision products have no place in this house as long as Hikvision is enabling China's campaign of repression against the Uyghurs [emphasis added]
Previously, Wolters uploaded a Hikvision reply to her proposal which stated that the "major function" of Hikvision's Xinjiang presence is "marketing and sales to local commercial distributors and installers". Hikvision also offered to connect Wolters with Pierre-Richard Prosper, the former UN ambassador Hikvision hired to investigate its human rights compliance in Xinjiang whose report on this remains secret.
No Comment From Hikvision
IPVM requested comment from Hikvision Global Communications and PR Director Karl Erik Traberg. If or when Hikvision responds, we shall update this report.
UPDATE May 11, 2021: Hikvision has officially declined to comment.
Fever Camera Problems
While these fever cameras were removed for Hikvision's human rights issues, they have serious issues themselves. As IPVM's scientific study published in the Journal of Biomedical Optics shows, many fever cameras, include Hikvision's, manipulate temperature readings. This is an ethical and practical issue for users around the world, including in the EU Parliament used such systems.
European Challenges For Hikvision
While Hikvision has received criticisms from various countries around the world, Hikvision's sales have been less impacted in Europe than in North America in the past few years.
Increasing criticisms and moves such as this in the European Parliament risk increased challenges for Hikvision in Europe.
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