oppressive regimes

Monday 17 October 2011



Iran, China and Burma are the three most oppressive regimes in the world according to a new survey published by Ethical Consumer magazine.

The survey examined a wide range of human rights abuses in 196 countries. These included corruption, the use of the death penalty, press freedom, torture and workers' rights. Some 39 countries are now judged by Ethical Consumer to be an oppressive regime.

The results of the survey are now being used by Ethical Consumer when a company's ethical and environmental record is surveyed. Companies who operate in an oppressive regime are penalised under Ethical Consumer's ethical rating system.

Leonie Nimmo from Ethical Consumer who carried out the survey said:

“Companies benefit commercially from the very conditions which contribute to oppression such as an absence of workers' rights, lax environmental regulations and an economic environment conducive to corruption and tax avoidance.”

“Trading with an oppressive regime helps to make it financially viable. Such countries are  supported by a series of economic ties without which they would not survive. Foreign investment is a crucial element of this.”

Companies dealing with oppressive regimes expose themselves to a very high reputational risk which can ultimately impact on a company's bottom line.

Leonie Nimmo from Ethical Consumer said:

“Companies, particularly with brands in ethically sensitive markets such the UK are all too aware of the need to avoid consumer backlashes. They have, and will, respond to     consumer pressure which presents an invaluable means of affecting change.”

“We urge all companies with operations in oppressive regimes to seriously consider their position. Where companies decide not to withdraw their operations we call on them to raise the ethical bar and work with local campaign groups and trade unions to improve workers' rights.”



1 The survey was compiled using data from a wide range of sources including Amnesty International, the International Centre for Trades Unions and Rights and Reporters Without Borders.

2 The ten most oppressive regimes are: Iran, China, Burma, Sudan, Yemen, Zimbabwe,
Congo DRC, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam.

3 Countries scoring over six in the survey are judged by Ethical Consumer to be an oppressive regime.

4 A copy of the oppressive regime survey is available here:
5 Launched in 1989 Ethical Consumer is the UK's leading ethical and environmental magazine. In each issue Ethical Consumer examines the ethical and environmental record of the companies behind everyday products and services from bread to banks. For more information visit the Ethical Consumer website: www.ethicalconsumer.org


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