On 9 December 2021, 16 Rohingya complainants assisted by Victim Advocates International filed a specific instance against Facebook [Meta, Inc.] at the Irish NCP. The complaint concerns activities and omissions of Facebook related to its services in Myanmar in 2017.
As is well-documented by numerous human rights bodies, including the United Nations Independent International Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar (“IIFFMM”), military operations conducted by the Burmese military in 2017 forcibly displaced 750,000 Rohingya into neighbouring Bangladesh, and were accompanied by numerous other egregious human rights abuses. The military and others used Facebook to incite violence, which resulted in numerous human rights violations suffered by the Rohingya. The IIFFMM concluded that Facebook’s role in spreading the hate speech that fueled the violence in Rakhine state in 2017 was “significant.”
Despite Facebook’s own acknowledgment that it did not do enough the prevent its platform from being used to incite violence, it has never provided any form of remediation to the Rohingya victims for the human rights violations to which it contributed. The complainants submit that Facebook is in breach of the Guidelines because it: 1) failed to conduct adequate due diligence for its business operations in Myanmar, 2) contributed to human rights violations suffered by the Rohingya in 2017 through both its acts and omissions; 3) did not have a policy commitment to respect internationally recognised human rights as at 2017, and has since issued one that is not compliant with the Guidelines; and 4) failed to provide a remedy despite contributing to the human rights violations.
The complainants are seeking mediation from the Irish NCP to achieve, among other things, Facebook’s commitment to fund educational facilities within The Bangladesh-based Cox’s Bazar Refugee Camp.
The filing to the Irish NCP coincides with court filings: on 6 December 2021, a number of US-based Rohingya filed a class action lawsuit against Facebook in California for the role the platform played in violence committed against the Rohingya since Facebook’s entry into the telecommunications market in Myanmar. On the same day, a UK-based law firm notified its intent to file a lawsuit against Facebook before UK courts. Because domestic legal proceedings are often constrained as to the types of remedies they can provide, the complainants in the specific instance see great potential in an Irish NCP-mediated settlement that is more beneficial to the Rohingya children and students who are being denied education in Cox’s Bazar, and whose educational needs cannot afford to wait the duration of lengthy legal proceedings.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
- Chapter II
- Chapter II Paragraph A10
- Chapter IV
- Chapter IV Paragraph 2
- Chapter IV Paragraph 4
- Chapter IV Paragraph 5
- Chapter IV Paragraph 6
- Commentary Ch. II
- Commentary Ch. II Paragraph 14
- Commentary Ch. II Paragraph 19
- Commentary Ch. IV
- Commentary Ch. IV Paragraph 42