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7 Mai 2021

Karolina Bonde, PAX

Commentary: Is Lundin Energy misusing human rights law?

"Is Lundin Energy misusing human rights law?", 4 May 2021

Ian H. Lundin, Alex Schneiter and Lundin Energy’s request to end the war crimes investigations against them was rejected by the Svea Court of Appeal (Svea hovrätt) on 27th of April. This was the fourth time that they had asked acourt to terminate the investigation for violating their human rights as suspects, without giving regard to the right of victims of war crimes to access to justice and prompt redress .

In 1997 the company that is now called Lundin Energy signed a contract to explore oil in southern Sudan, where a brutal civil war was raging. Subsequently, heinous crimes were committed against the civilian population in its concession area: an estimated 160,000 people were forcibly displaced, their houses and livelihood stolen or destroyed. At least 12,000 died. Young men were forcibly recruited, young women raped and enslaved.

The Unpaid Debt report, published in 2010, described these war crimes and the role of the oil companies, which led a Swedish prosecutor to initiate an investigation. In November 2016, two executives of Lundin Energy, Ian Lundin and Alex Schneiter, were informed that they were suspected of aiding and abetting war crimes. In 2018 Lundin Energy was informed that the prosecutor would seek a penalty for profiting from war crimes.

The accused argue that their right to a fair trial within a reasonable time, has been infringed, invoking article 6(1), the right to a fair trial within reasonable time, of the European Convention on Human Rights. Their request was once again rejected by The Svea Court of Appeal on 27 April on similar grounds as the Stockholm District Court...Both courts found that the Swedish Supreme Court has determined in 2003 that the law does not allow a court to terminate a criminal investigation for taking a too much time to reach the court.

It would seem that the suspects’ request has little legal merit. This raises the question whether this kind of ‘robust’ legal defence practices constitutes an effort to delay justice and infringes upon the victims’ rights to access to justice and prompt redress....

The investigation has undoubtedly taken a long time but, as set out in Swedish law and ECHR case-law, this must be balanced against the complexity of the case. Other cases concerning war crimes that have been brought to international tribunals have taken a similarly long time to reach court...