30% of Independent Shareholders call on Thomson Reuters to Examine Risks of Working with ICE

6/4, 12:00 PM (Source: GlobeNewswire)

BURNABY, British Columbia, June 04, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- 30% of independent Thomson Reuters shareholders voted in favour of a proposal asking for the company to investigate and report on potential human rights abuses enabled by contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. agency at the heart of the Trump administration’s immigrant detention and deportation agenda.

The proposal was presented by the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union, an institutional investor in Thomson Reuters.

In response to the AGM results, BCGEU President Stephanie Smith released the following statement:

“Today’s AGM vote sends a clear message: Thomson Reuters shareholders are concerned that their company is failing to tackle the very serious and concerning human rights risks related to its contracts with ICE. Our proposal has clearly resonated with investors. As we said at the AGM, we are not going away, and we intend to keep pushing Thomson Reuters to protect shareholder value.”

Thomson Reuters has received over US$70 million in ICE contracts to provide data brokerage services that help the U.S. agency target undocumented immigrants for detention and deportation. The company, via its CLEAR software, amasses data from private and public databases on individuals, like social media information, phone data, license plate scans, utility bills, financial information, arrest records, insurance information, employment records, and more.

The software has also been used by Minnesota law enforcement for surveillance on the community, according to new reporting from Buzzfeed News. Minneapolis has been the centre of protests in the United States following the May 25 killing of 46-year-old George Floyd by police officers.  

Recent reports note that the company does not merely provide off the shelf software, Thomson Reuters employees fine-tune target lists and provide those lists to ICE with address changes, credit activities, location, and more. This technology has been directly linked to the deportations of undocumented immigrants in the United States, potentially involving family separation and the detention of people in conditions that violate their human rights.

“Today, we asked a simple question: will Thomson Reuters address the troubling human rights issues related to how its software is being used, and to make sure it is living up to its obligations as a participant in the United Nations Global Compact? Today’s strong vote shows that shareholders are worried about the current direction of the company, need more information, and deserve answers,” said Smith.

The proposal was endorsed by proxy firm Glass Lewis with a global client base of institutions that collectively manage more than $25 trillion in assets, in addition to other high-profile institutional investors, lawyers, and human rights experts.

The BCGEU is one of the largest unions in British Columbia, with over 80,000 members in almost every community and economic sector in the province. Under BCGEU's capital stewardship strategy, the union has submitted shareholder proposals to companies including Royal Bank of Canada, Brookfield Asset Management and Loblaw on topics like human rights, sexual misconduct, and executive compensation.

Emma Pullman, Capital Markets Advisor
BC Government and Service Employees’ Union 
(778)-887-6776 (cell)

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