The End of a Timeline of Poor Attitudes towards Human Rights for F1 Chief Executive
Formula One chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has been removed from his position after nearly 40 years in charge. He has in the past been criticised for his laid-back attitude towards human rights.
The Radio 4 Today programme drew attention to a quote from Ecclestone in 2013 following the anti-F1 protests in Bahrain when he said, “We don’t go anywhere to judge how a country is run. I keep asking people, ‘What human rights?’ – I don’t know what they are. The rights are that people who live in the country abide by the laws of the country, whatever they are.”
In March 2014 a complaint was made against F1 by Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) due to a breach of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) responsible business guidelines in the run-up to the 2013 Bahrain Grand Prix, which saw a bloody government crackdown on protesters.
As a result, F1 issued a statement on the "legal notices" page of their website committing themselves to “understand and monitor through our due diligence processes the potential human rights impacts of our activities”, and to “engage in meaningful consultation with relevant stakeholders in relation to any issues raised as a result of our due diligence, where appropriate”.
In 2016, F1 took the decision to host a Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi in the UAE during the month of November. In response to this, Amnesty International published an article condemning the event. Their Middle East Deputy Director of Campaigns, Samah Hadid said, "Do spectators know that behind the glamorous façade, people are being arrested and tortured for voicing criticism of the government? Or that enforced disappearances go unchecked, with families often going months without knowledge of their loved ones’ whereabouts?"
In 1985, F1 went ahead with the South African Grand Prix despite the apartheid taking place in the country at the time; a suggestion that they have a history of disregard for human rights.
Today's news begs the question; will the new F1 leaders take a more considerate approach to human rights in the UAE, or will the disregard be inherited?