Spotlight News 10/7/2015

Cargo Truck Driver Implicated in Theft of Nearly $500,000 of Pharmaceuticals in Russia

A truck driver in St. Petersburg has admitted to his role in the theft of $495,360 of pharmaceuticals he was supposed to deliver to Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia. The truck was loaded with the drugs at a pharmaceutical wholesaler’s location on Marshal Novikova Street in the northern Primorsky District of St. Petersburg, and was supposed to arrive in Rostov-on-Don several days later. The driver stopped responding to calls about the load, prompting the company to call the police. During questioning, the driver admitted that he had left the truck a block from the pickup location for his criminal accomplice to pick up. Police have not identified the other man.

Drivers are directly involved in nearly 14 percent of the thefts BSI records in the country. Other types of insider involvement in cargo thefts, such as tip-offs from warehouse employees or truck drivers about the location of high-value loads, are also very common. Pharmaceuticals are targeted in a relatively small number of thefts in Russia, though BSI has recorded a handful of pharmaceutical thefts so far this year. 

With Agreement Reached on Trans-Pacific Partnership, Activists Remain Skeptical of Enforcement Mechanisms

On Monday, twelve Pacific Rim countries in negotiations reached agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which seeks, among other things, to eliminate thousands of tariffs and set uniform standards for worker rights and environmental protection. Some environmental activist groups that were previously critical of the agreement have praised the final version’s language regarding environmental protections. However, these same activists have warned that the TPP’s conservation goals will only be reached if enforcement mechanisms are actively used by member states to ensure compliance.

In addition to environmental protections, the White House published a factsheet that states the TPP will require signatories to protect worker rights, including the right to form and join unions, bargain collectively, abolish child and forced labor, and set minimum wages.  However, it remains unclear how the TPP will bind signatories to these commitments, or whether these commitments will actually help eradicate child and forced labor in participating countries, where child and force labor is already illegal.

Enforcement of uniform labor standards across all signatory countries will be critical in effecting positive change for workers. It is conceivable that signatory countries will adopt these standards as law, but still fail to enforce them, thereby doing little to improve worker rights. Additionally, there is no known mechanism that compels signatory governments to enforce provisions that set labor standards, and various capacity limitations in countries like Vietnam diminish the prospect of effective enforcement of these standards. Among the countries included in the TPP negotiations, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam have at least one High or Severe risk rating for child labor, working conditions, or other human rights risk areas.

Curfew Imposed After Clashes in Guinea, Violence Comes Ahead of Election Scheduled for Sunday

Authorities in the West African nation of Guinea imposed a curfew in Nzerekore, the country’s second-largest city, after a recent series of clashes injured dozens of people. The clashes involved supporters of the country’s two main rival political parties and security services. Some of those hurt in the violence suffered firearms wounds, while others were injured with batons or projectiles such as stones. The unrest broke out during a visit by current President Alpha Conde, who became Guinea’s first democratically elected president in 2010 following a coup in 2008.

Guinea’s presidential elections remain scheduled for this Sunday, October 11, despite opposition calls to delay the polls. BSI has previously reported on the significant threat of political and social unrest in a number of countries throughout the sub-Saharan Africa region as a number of presidents come due for reelection in the coming years. Such unrest has the potential to cause immediate interruptions to business continuity – as highlighted by measures such the recent curfew – in addition to posing longer-term threats to economic development as a result of sustained instability.