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#MauritiusLeaks reveal Africa is losing crucial tax revenues to tax haven of Mauritius – Oxfam reaction

 
Tuesday 23rd July 2019
 
Responding to research published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists today that multinational corporations are using the tax haven of Mauritius to avoid paying millions of dollars of tax across Africa, Jim Clarken, Oxfam Ireland’s Chief Executive, said:
 
“Mauritius Leaks provide yet another example of how multinational corporations are gaming the system to shrink their tax bills – and cheating some of the world’s poorest countries out of the vital tax revenues they need to get children into school or ensure people can see a doctor when they are ill.
 
“The true scandal is that this – like most tax avoidance schemes – is completely legal. Governments, including Ireland and the UK, must work together to shut down tax havens by ending tax secrecy so that it’s clear where corporations and the super-rich make profits and pay tax. Real political will is urgently needed to ensure meaningful transparency in the reporting of multinational companies’ tax affairs in the form of public country by country reporting. 
 
“This would stop companies artificially moving their profits to tax havens or using loopholes and secret deals to avoid paying their fair share. And it would let the public and governments in developing countries see what’s really going on, providing data to help review and, if necessary, reform corporate tax avoidance practices.
 
“It is not good enough to argue that tax avoidance is permissible because practices fall within the letter of the law. Legal loopholes abuse a broken system that allows the rich to get richer while the world’s poorest suffer.”
 
ENDS
 
CONTACT:
 
Oxfam experts are available for interview, including Peter Kamalingin, Oxfam’s Pan Africa Director. 

Please contact:

ROI:     Alice Dawson-Lyons: alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org / +353 (0) 83 198 1869

NI:        Phillip Graham: phillip.graham@oxfam.org / +44 (0) 7841 102535

Notes to the editor:

Mauritius Leaks revealed that multinational corporations artificially but legally shifted their profits out of African countries where they do business to the corporate tax haven of Mauritius, where foreign income like interest payments are taxed at the very low rate of 3 percent. Unfair tax agreements signed between Mauritius and countries in Africa and Europe allow some companies cut their tax bills even further.

Mauritius Leaks is a global investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). For more details see: https://www.icij.org/investigations/mauritius-leaks/
 
Since 2014, a huge number of documents, including the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers scandals, have been leaked by ICIJ unveiling how tax evasion and avoidance have become standard business practice across the globe.
 
Countries from across the globe, including several African countries, are currently participating in a round of international tax negotiations under the OECD-G20 umbrella, including issues such as the introduction of a global minimum effective tax rate. To effectively curb profit shifting, countries must ensure the global minimum effective tax rate is set at an ambitious level and applied at a country-by-country basis without exceptions.

In 2016, Oxfam exposed Mauritius as one the world’s 15 worst corporate tax havens in its report ‘Tax Battles.’ Download a copy of the report here.

On 28 May, 2019, the Tax Justice Network launched the Corporate Tax Haven Index (CTHI). Tax Justice Network Africa cited Mauritius as “among the most corrosive corporate tax havens against African countries”.
 
Company loans from Mauritius and nine other tax havens to African countries total over $80 billion. This means that for every $6 of foreign investment in Africa, $1 was a company loan from a tax haven. Two infographics detailing this information are available for download here.

New Ebola cases in Goma pose risk of disease spreading internationally, says Oxfam Ireland CEO

In response to the World Health Organisation’s declaration of the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as a ‘public health emergency of international concern’, Oxfam Ireland’s Chief Executive Jim Clarken said:

“Ebola has now been confirmed in Goma, a major transport hub with a population of more than one million people. The city’s location on the border with Rwanda only increases the risk of international spread of this deadly disease.

“We need more intensified and coordinated action from the international community and this decision by the World Health Organization (WHO) is a major step in attracting the world’s attention to the Ebola crisis in DRC.

“We welcome their recommendation to prioritise community engagement, as we know that getting the trust of communities affected by the virus has been a massive barrier and focusing primarily on a medical approach hasn’t been working.”

Over 13 million people in DRC are facing acute levels of hunger and many have endured decades of violence and conflict. 300,000 people have recently been displaced by renewed conflict in Ituri, an area not far from an Ebola outbreak which nearly a year on has killed 1,600 people.

Clarken added: “The recent Ebola deaths in Uganda also show the devastating potential for Ebola to spread across borders. Vast numbers of people on the move makes it even more difficult to track and treat patients at risk of the virus.

“We echo the WHO’s call for authorities to allow borders to remain open, so people can cross safely at official points where they can be screened for Ebola. Given the intense conflict in the region, there’s a huge risk of people crossing illegally if borders are closed. Millions of people are also dependent on cross border trade and if this lifeline is cut off it would only put poor people at risk of losing their livelihoods, while generating more anger and distrust towards the Ebola response.”

Oxfam’s Country Director in the DRC, Corinne N’Daw, said: “This is also a crucial opportunity to strengthen the public health response and to respond to broader humanitarian needs in the country. Any new funding must be accompanied by stricter accountability to ensure that everyone is working effectively together to end this dreadful outbreak, that has claimed the lives of so many Congolese people.”

Oxfam has been providing assistance in North Kivu and Ituri with public awareness and education on how to keep safe and stop the spread of the disease. Oxfam has also responded to previous outbreaks elsewhere in DRC by providing hundreds of thousands of people with clean, safe water, and working with local community leaders and volunteers to increase understanding of how to prevent Ebola.

NOTES TO EDITORS

Oxfam has spokespeople on the ground and in Ireland. Supporting materials are also available, including photos, testimonies and video of Oxfam’s response. For more information, or to arrange an interview please contact: Phillip Graham on 0044 (0) 7841 102535 / phillip.graham@oxfamireland.org

 

Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo is declared an international health emergency

News broke yesterday of the first confirmed case of the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD) in the heavily populated city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), located on the Rwandan border.

Serious concerns are being expressed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for the safety of the one million residents in this large urban area and about the spread of the virus beyond, as Goma serves as a major gateway for transport to and from the DRC.

The WHO has now declared the Ebola outbreak in the DRC a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. This declaration will mean a greater response from the rest of the world on the plight of the Congolese people.

Oxfam has been providing assistance in the Goma region with public awareness and education on how to keep safe and stop the spread of the disease and is ready to respond further if this first confirmed case leads to more.

It is important that travel in this area is unrestricted until we have further information about Ebola in Goma because millions of people depend on cross border trade to make a living in this already extremely poor part of the world.

In the rest of the DRC, we have helped hundreds of thousands of people by providing clean, safe water and working with local community leaders and volunteers to increase understanding of how to prevent Ebola.

Louise is a community leader in a district within Mangina, the most affected area by the Ebola virus. Copyright: John Wessels/Oxfam

Three hundred kilometres north of Goma in Mangina, a community leader, Louise, told us about her experience in this heavily impacted part of the DRC:

“At first we thought Ebola was witchcraft. We thought it was a spell cast on women because they are the one who are most affected. But since we received an explanation, we have understood that it is a very serious disease that strikes us.

“From the beginning of the outbreak, we called a community meeting and we decided to isolate any dead bodies. It was not easy because we do not have a mortuary in Mangina and people usually stay with the body for several days.

“Since the Ebola outbreak many people have died, others are in the hospital.  Many children are without their mothers. These children live with difficulty and the community has few means to help them.

“Here in Mangina, even finding food for your household is difficult. Sometimes you can spend the day without eating. We have seen families flee from here, one after the other. They may come back at the end of the epidemic.”

We urgently need your help to continue to play a vital role in preventing the disease from spreading. Oxfam is providing clean, safe water and hygiene kits and working closely wih community leaders and volunteers to raise awareness and increase understanding of how to take preventative measures against the disease.

Please, donate now to help meet the most critical needs. 100% of your donation will go to our Ebola response in DRC.

Oxfam - Response to Ebola outbreak

Government should support recommendation on family reunification says Justice Committee

  • Senator Colette Kelleher, Oxfam, Irish Refugee Council and Nasc welcome report by Joint Committee on Justice and Equality.
  • Committee finds that a broader definition of family would be fairer to those fleeing from conflict situations.

 

A group calling for a fairer system to reunify refugee families in Ireland who have been separated by persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations, has welcomed a report by the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality. The report recommends that the Government should allow legislation broadening the current definition of family contained in the International Protection Act to progress through the Dáil. 

Senator Colette Kelleher, who initiated the legislation, Oxfam, Irish Refugee Council and Nasc fully endorse the findings, which state that the current regime is too restrictive and that it needs to better reflect the realities of refugee familial relationships.

Currently in Ireland, refugees can only apply to be reunited with immediate family members and children under the age of 18. The proposed amendment would broaden the definition of eligible family members to include; elderly parents, who are often too old and vulnerable to make the arduous journey to flee brothers, sisters, and  children over the age of 18. This would allow families an opportunity to apply to reunite in a place of safety and peace help them to rebuild their lives and fully integrate into their communities in Ireland.

The implications of the current restrictions were recently presented by students from Largy College in Clones, Monaghan, who visited Leinster House to tell the House about the real challenges faced by refugees on their journey to safety. Whilst there, the transition year class took the opportunity to advocate on behalf of fellow Largy College student Lilav, a Syrian teenager who was separated from her sister during the conflict.

In an open letter to officials, Lilav said: "My family and I left Aleppo eight years ago because of the war. We spent two and a half years in Turkey. While in Turkey, my older sister Jihan, married Gmo, who is also from Syria. Jihan followed her husband’s wishes and stayed in Turkey while the rest of my family moved to Greece.  We spent two years living in Greece before moving to Ireland. Jihan and Gmo stayed in Turkey until 2015 before returning to Syria following the death of Gmo’s brother. They had only planned to return to Syria for a few weeks”.

Liav continued “Due to the war, they have been unable to leave. Jihan and Gmo now have two young daughters. Elena aged one and a half and Lilav who is five months old. Syria is not a safe place for my two beautiful nieces to grow up.  Life is extremely difficult for my sister and her young family in Syria. There is no guarantee that Jihan or her family will survive. They are in a lot of danger.”

The narrowing of access to family reunification for people granted international protection under changes to the legislation made in 2015 was recently highlighted by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to mark World Refugee Day, stating that the International Protection Act 2015 should be amended to widen the definition of family members to recognise the diversity of family forms in compliance with international human rights obligations.

Senator Colette Kelleher said: “I welcome the Detailed Scrutiny Report by the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality published today. It shows that the ‘Family Reunification’ Bill is an important, humane proposal, deserving of a money message by Government. It is in line with IHREC’s recent recommendations on refugee family reunification. My Bill returns to a more compassionate system in place for nearly two decades and gives desperate families torn apart by war and conflict, the chance to apply to be reunited in safety, puts the process on a firmer footing and within reasonable timescales. The ‘Family Reunification’ Bill recognises the diversity of family forms in compliance with international human rights obligations.”

The ‘Family Reunification’ Bill was initiated to address the restriction introduced by the International Protection Act 2015 and it has passed through all stages of the Seanad with a majority and through the Dáil Second Stage with a large majority of 78-39 in December 2018. However, it was determined that a money message from Government would be required for this Bill to proceed to formal committee stage. Today’s report by the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality recommends that the money message is granted.

 

ENDS

 

CONTACT: Interviews, images and more information available on request contact Nyle Lennon on nyle.lennon@oxfam.org  083 197 5107.

 

Notes to the Editor:

The report by the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality can be downloaded and viewed here: http://bit.ly/2LyGIBj

International Protection (Family Reunification) (Amendment) Bill 2017:  The Bill gives persons who have been granted international protection under the International Protection Act 2015 a statutory entitlement to apply for family reunification in respect of dependent members of the wider family, in addition to their current automatic right of family reunification in respect of the nuclear family.

Money message: In order for Private Members’ Bills, which are deemed by the Ceann Comhairle to involve a charge on the State, to progress to committee stage in the Dáil, they need a ‘money message’ from the government. Historically, this mechanism has rarely been used. However, the denial of a money message has recently been used to block a number of Private Members’ Bills from reaching Committee stage in the Dáil.

 

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Refugees deserve to rebuild their lives

They have lost so much, the millions of people who have been forced to flee due to war and natural disasters.

They have lost their homes. They have lost their loved ones. They have lost their livelihoods.

But their hopes and dreams can never be lost.

On World Refugee Day, we meet just three of the 70.8 million people displaced around the world and pay tribute to their determination and creativity.

In Jordan’s Za’atari refugee camp, 12-year-old Muna* from Eastern Ghouta, Syria, is taking part in an art project run by Oxfam.

Muna*, who wants to become a fashion designer, engineer or journalist, can’t remember much about her life in Syria because she was just six years old when she and her family had to flee.

 

“I didn’t go to school in Syria; it was the beginning of the war and there was a lot of bombings,” she says.

Despite the trauma she has already experienced in her short life, Muna* is full of confidence and hope for the future.

“If you have a dream don’t give it up, it is nice to have a dream and work towards achieving it,” she says. “We as kids need to draw our dreams with our hands so we can achieve them one day.”

 

When Mosees, Christine and their three children were threatened with a weapon one night, they fled their home in Juba, South Sudan, and made their way to Impevi camp in Uganda.

Despite only being residents of the camp for a few months, they have already built their own house. Christine (24), who is a member of a group called Ask & Try, was also trained by Oxfam on how to make eco-stoves from clay, which must be moulded to a fixed shape so that they burn briquettes properly.

Christine, who has perfected the art, also made her own stove: “I light it in the morning and if it burns well it will do it all day. I don't have to look for firewood anymore and that saves a lot of time and stress, because it is not safe to leave the camp.”

Although she would like to go home to South Sudan someday, she will only do so if the violence ends.  In the meantime, Christine says: “We will stay here, and we can build a good life.”

Meanwhile, in Zambia’s Kenani refugee camp, Falia loves hairdressing and happily spends her days braiding, weaving and cutting the residents’ hair. She used to have a hair salon in the Democratic Republic of Congo before the conflict forced her to flee with her husband and three children.

 

“We left because we saw people breaking into people’s homes, killing people and stealing stuff – we realised it was time to go,” she says. “I was scared of getting killed. I have lost too many people in this war.”

Falia is part of Oxfam’s livelihoods programme and received tools and equipment to open a salon in the camp. Unfortunately, heavy rains destroyed the salon, but she continues to work under a tree.

“The salon is important because some people come to rest and relax, even if they are not having their hair done and others come to forget their problems or to learn how to do hair,” she says. “I just want to keep being a hairdresser and I want to grow. I want my children to be able to go to school and have a better life, I want to keep working in the salon so that everything is great.”

Oxfam is working in refugee camps around the world, providing life-saving aid such as clean water, sanitation and food to those who have been forced to flee.

We also help to protect refugees from violence and abuse, ensure they understand their rights and give them access to free legal aid.

 

*Name changed to protect identity

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