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Big Tobacco Puts Countries On Trial As Concerns Over Ttip Deals Mount

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Tiny Uruguay may not seem a likely front line in the war of the quit smoking brigade against Big Tobacco.


But the Latin American country has unwittingly found itself not just in the thick of that battle, but in the middle of an even bigger fight – that of the rising opposition to international free trade deals.

Philip Morris is suing Uruguay for increasing the size of the health warnings on cigarette packs, and for clamping down on tobacco companies’ use of sub-brands like Malboro Red, Gold, Blue or Green which could give the impression some cigarettes are safe to smoke.

The tobacco behemoth is taking its legal action under the terms of a bilateral trade agreement between Switzerland – where it relatively recently moved from the US – and Uruguay. The trade deal has at its heart a provision allowing Swiss multinationals the right to sue the Uruguayan people if they bring in legislation that will damage their profits. [more at link...]

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/big-tobacco-puts-countries-on-trial-as-concerns-over-ttip-deals-mount-9807478.html

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Read this and let the full ramifications sink in.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/04/us-trade-deal-full-frontal-assault-on-democracy

These companies (along with hundreds of others) are using the investor-state dispute rules embedded in trade treaties signed by the countries they are suing. The rules are enforced by panels which have none of the safeguards we expect in our own courts. The hearings are held in secret. The judges are corporate lawyers, many of whom work for companies of the kind whose cases they hear. Citizens and communities affected by their decisions have no legal standing. There is no right of appeal on the merits of the case. Yet they can overthrow the sovereignty of parliaments and the rulings of supreme courts.

You don't believe it? Here's what one of the judges on these tribunals says about his work. "When I wake up at night and think about arbitration, it never ceases to amaze me that sovereign states have agreed to investment arbitration at all ... Three private individuals are entrusted with the power to review, without any restriction or appeal procedure, all actions of the government, all decisions of the courts, and all laws and regulations emanating from parliament."

There are no corresponding rights for citizens. We can't use these tribunals to demand better protections from corporate greed. As the Democracy Centre says, this is "a privatised justice system for global corporations".

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You don't believe it? Here's what one of the judges on these tribunals says about his work. "When I wake up at night and think about arbitration, it never ceases to amaze me that sovereign states have agreed to investment arbitration at all ... Three private individuals are entrusted with the power to review, without any restriction or appeal procedure, all actions of the government, all decisions of the courts, and all laws and regulations emanating from parliament."

This is also why I'm opposed to a Federal Europe. While it's bad now, just imagine how easy it would be if corporations only had to lobby and capture 1 organization (the EU) instead of 28 or so countries individually.

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This is also why I'm opposed to a Federal Europe. While it's bad now, just imagine how easy it would be if corporations only had to lobby and capture 1 organization (the EU) instead of 28 or so countries individually.

Already happening. Of the consultations the EU has held over TTIP something like 95% have been with corporate lobbyists.

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