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4 Jul 2024

Amnesty International

I/OPT: Dutch Investor pushes for human rights safeguards to stop use of surveillance technology against Palestinians

"Israel/OPT: Dutch Investor pushes for human rights safeguards to stop use of surveillance technology against Palestinians"

Amnesty International welcomes the demand from a major investor in the Dutch manufacturer of cameras deployed in occupied East Jerusalem that it must apply human rights safeguards.  

ASN Impact Investors has said that TKH Group must adopt human rights due diligence policies within a year or face a termination of investment.  

This sets the right precedent in pushing investors to account for the actions of the beneficiaries of their investments. 

The move comes just over a year after Amnesty International published the Automated Apartheid: How facial recognition fragments, segregates and controls Palestinians in the OPT report, documenting how Israel’s vast network of facial recognition-enabled cameras violates the human rights of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and entrenches Israel’s system of apartheid.  

“Investors provide the enabling conditions and resources for entities like TKH Security, a part of TKH Group, to develop and sell surveillance technologies. Their vigilance is important especially where the risk of human rights harms is heightened,” said Matt Mahmoudi, Amnesty International’s Interim Head of the Silicon Valley Initiative, and Researcher on AI and Human Rights. 

“This is particularly urgent in the wake of Israel’s escalating surveillance-enabled crackdown on freedom of movement and freedom of association and peaceful assembly. Supplying hardware or software that can be used to reinforce apartheid, which is a crime against humanity, and other human rights violations by Israel against Palestinians must not be tolerated under any circumstance.”  

Responding to Amnesty International on the Automated Apartheid report findings, the investor, in communication to Amnesty, said,

“ASN Impact Investors has decided to actively engage with TKH Group to develop proper due diligence policies to avoid such deals from taking place in the future. This means that TKH Group has one year to satisfy ASN Impact Investors’ demands otherwise the investment will be terminated. This is the heaviest tool in ASN Impact Investors’ toolbox.” 

Amnesty’s Automated Apartheid report identified the use of cameras made by TKH Group in occupied East Jerusalem, likely to be part of the Mabat 2000 networked facial recognition system. This system, introduced in 2000 and significantly upgraded since 2017 to integrate facial recognition capabilities, has given Israeli authorities unprecedented powers of control and surveillance over the everyday lives of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, facilitating arbitrary restrictions on their rights to freedom of movement and freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly. [...]

In April 2021, Amnesty International identified several TKH CCTV products, situated on infrastructure operated by Israeli police in occupied East Jerusalem.  To date, TKH has not answered Amnesty International questions about the nature of any TKH Security-owned products used by Israeli security forces, including any indirect relationships, its human rights due diligence procedures, and whether it had or intended to make a public commitment not to develop or sell facial recognition products. 

Given this continued lack of clarity and commitment to heightened human rights due diligence, ASN’s decision is an important one in ensuring corporate accountability.