Dutch violate human rights with dirty diesel exports: report

Lilianne Ploumen (Photo: Rijksoverheid.nl/Wikimedia Commons). (Lilianne Ploumen (Photo: Rijksoverheid.nl/Wikimedia Commons))

The Netherlands can and should be preventing Dutch companies from exporting polluting fuel to Africa, lawyers of the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) conclude in an investigation commissioned by environmental organization Milieudefensie. By not intervening, the Dutch government is violating international treaties and human rights, the researchers conclude, the Telegraaf reports. 

This investigation followed a study by Swiss organization Public Eye on polluting fuels. It revealed that companies in the ports of Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Antwerp produce fuel for the African market that contain far more harmful substances, like sulfur and benzene, than is allowed in the European Union.

Minister Lilianne Ploumen of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation called the conclusions a shame, but saw no legal possibilities to intervene. "The government is not the appropriate entity to assess whether local fuel legislation violates human rights", she said in response to parliamentary questions on the Public Eye study in November. She added that she expects Dutch companies to "maintain the same human rights standards abroad as in the Netherlands". The government will talk with companies like Vitol and Trafigura "about their responsibilities and how they are currently living up to it."

The results of the Public Eye investigation is included in a still ongoing government investigation into the actions of Dutch oil and gas companies abroad.