This week a French appeals court gave the green light to five Libyans, tortured under the Gadhafi regime, to take legal action against Amesys, a subsidiary of French Tech Firm Bull. Represented by the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights(FIDH), the plaintiffs are accusing Amesys of providing Libya’s former regime with a “communication monitoring system used to target opponents, who were subsequently detained and tortured,” according to Middle East Online. Amesys admitted to supplying “analysis equipment” to the regime, though it says that this was during a period where Libya had improved relations with the West, and that the equipment was not used for surveillance.
France had quite strong relations with the former regime, relationships which some say were the very reason that France was so keen to jump into help rebels in Libya two years ago. Even after President Sarkozy finished his term, French politicians continue to pressure him about claims that his campaign was funded by the Gaddafi family - The Independent even goes so far as to say it has proof, surfacing only this month.
Nonetheless, the question remains whether the Bull subsidiary A) knowingly supplied Gaddfi’s regime with technology enabling them to spy on citizens with intent to seize and torture, and B) whether simply enabling them with this technology makes them responsible. No doubt Amesys has other, non-torturing clients who make use of their innovative technology, and can they be held responsible for every crazy Libyan dictator who goes off the wagon? FIDH says Yes.
While I didn’t catch too many technology firms as targets of FIDH’s pro human rights agenda, I did see that they helped in the investigation into the death of a blogger, as well as pointing out several injustices in Mali, Russia, Iran, and more.
Bull has been distancing itself from its less-noble subsidiary for quite some time – I wonder if this will blow back on them or cause them to sell.