HRC asked to probe MTN

2012-04-03 14:49

The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has received a request to investigate MTN for human rights violations in Iran.

MTN has been accused of facilitating the surveillance of Iranian opposition activists by allowing phones to be bugged.

Rival cellphone company Turkcell has also accused MTN of using bribery to obtain an operating licence for Iran.
The case has been brought before a court in the US.

According to court papers quoted yesterday by Democratic Alliance spokesperson David Maynier, MTN “offered the advantage” to Iranian state-owned defence company Sairan to provide access by the Iranian Ministry of Defence to MTN’s devices once the company was running a private cellular network in Iran.

“The access would facilitate installation of eavesdropping technology on MTN devices,” Maynier quoted the court papers as alleging.

“We have received a request from the DA to investigate whether the MTN Group may be directly or indirectly responsible for human rights violations in Iran,” said SAHRC spokesperson Vincent Moaga. The first stage of the investigation would establish whether there had been prima facie violations of human rights and whether MTN had a case to answer to.

It would also establish whether the SAHRC was the correct body to deal with the matter, and what mechanisms were available to conduct the investigation, Moaga said.

Maynier said his concerns about MTN’s role were compounded by reports that MTN-Irancell had purchased various monitoring softwares between 2008 and 2011.

These included the purchases of a system to monitor local voice calls from Nokia Siemens Networks in 2008, a system to filter, block and store text message from AdaptiveMobile, and systems to monitor the location of users from Ericsson in 2009 and Creativity Software in 2009 and 2011.

The MTN Group owns 49% of MTN-Irancell, through its subsidiary MTN International, Maynier said.

There was no evidence that MTN-Irancell was involved directly or indirectly in human rights violations.

But opposition members had been confronted by intelligence officers with transcripts of their mobile phone calls, e-mails and text messages, said Maynier.

In a statement on MTN’s website, the company states that its role in widening access to mobile technology was a liberating force for Iranians, regardless of political allegiances.

“On human rights, the group takes direction from and adheres to the policies of both the South African government and the United Nations... MTN seeks to ensure that our corporate values of respect for human rights are reflected in the way we do business and we expect all our partners to adhere to these fundamental principles,” the group said.

“We are subject to local legal requirements in respect of intercept and government access to data.”

MTN spokesperson Xolisa Vapi referred requests for comment to the group’s website.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.