World’s largest sovereign wealth fund called on to dump offshore detention operator shares

New research from The Australia Institute has revealed that Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, known as ‘Oljefondet’, has US$280 million invested in Ferrovial. After its takeover of Australian company Broadspectrum, Spanish company Ferrovial is now responsible for the biggest contract to run Australia’s offshore detention camps.

The offshore detention camps are notorious for human rights abuses, which puts the investment in direct conflict with human rights standards set out by the Norwegian pension fund.

“The Norwegian pension fund has strong human rights standards for its investments. The operations on Manus Island and Nauru fail to meet those standards,” Business and Human Rights Advisor for The Australia Institute, Brynn O’Brien said.

“Australia’s system of offshore detention camps relies on the active participation of companies like Ferrovial. The withdrawal of support for that company from the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund would send a clear message that Norwegians want no business and no complicity in the abuse of refugees and asylum seekers.

An open letter will today begin gathering signatures in Australia and Norway calling on the Oljefondet board to divest from companies operating Australia’s offshore refugee detention camps.  

Segment of the open letter (translated):

Dear Norway,

We need your help. Oljefondet – on behalf of the Norwegian people – is invested Australia’s system of offshore refugee detention camps and prolonged detention, which UNHCR has described as “immensely harmful”.

People are held indefinitely on Nauru and Manus Island, without access to adequate health care or recourse to Australia’s legal system, in a system Amnesty International says “amounts to torture under international law.”

Oljefondet is invested in Spanish company Ferrovial, which now has responsibility for the biggest contract to run Australia’s offshore refugee detention camps; Ferrovial’s contracts have just been extended to October 2017.

This investment in Ferrovial clearly fails to meet the ethical standards set by Oljefondet’s own policy documents

If you want Norway’s money out of offshore detention, please sign the petition asking Oljefondet to divest.

“We are simply calling on Norway to uphold the standards it has set for itself. There is clearly an inconsistency between those standards and holding shares in a company involved in the types of human rights violations we see on Manus Island and Nauru. We are drawing Oljefondet’s attention to this inconsistency,” O’Brien said.

Recent polling has shown the Australian people are opposed to the current asylum seeker policy.

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