International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Volkswagon Aiding in Human Rights Violations?

Adriano Diogo, state legislator and head of a truth investigation examining the military dictatorship in Brazil from 1964-85, accused VW of aiding in human rights violations. Documents were allegedly discovered that prove that leaders of the automobile company aided Brazilian military at the time by providing names and home addresses of union members on its payroll. Employees on this “black list” were consequentially questioned and detained by the police and lost their jobs.

Volkswagon was among three other companies that provided the most information to the regime and asked to testify before the Sao Paolo state commission. The manager of legal affairs for VW, Rogerio Varga, denied involvement, claiming that “There is no document in any archive that has been uncovered that places the institution of Volkswagen in collaboration with any violation of human rights.” Diogo was not impressed and has publicly denounced the testimony and “absolutely unsatisfactory.” Former employees and victims of the company’s ousting have come forward to speak about their experiences.

It will be interesting to see what will come of these allegations, when we think of private players taking advantage of foreign conflicts we are reminded of Charles Taylor financially supporting the RUF or radio stations in Rwanda providing hit lists. These allegations focus on a worldwide “western” company seemingly removed from human rights conflicts.

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One response to “Volkswagon Aiding in Human Rights Violations?

  1. snech March 31, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    What is interesting about this case is that in most of the examples we’ve looked at in class of human rights abuses, no one from the private sector has been charged with abetting the crimes. While I’m sure the private sector has a large influence in many of these cases, it seems to stay largely under the radar. I’m curious to see the response to the allegations of VW’s involvement. Will they have to pay reparations or be tried? Or will these findings be ultimately ignored. I assume that the outcome will hinge on the influence VW has on the government.

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