Petition calls counterfeiting a crime against humanity

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The anti-piracy organisation ACN Africa requests that counterfeiting resulting in death should be considered as a crime against humanity. To this effect, the Uganda-based organisation has now petitioned the International Criminal Court.

To have counterfeiting involving widespread death classified as a crime against humanity, the African organisation Anti-Counterfeit Network Africa (ACN) has recently submitted a petition to the International Criminal Court. The request focuses on counterfeiting offences that pose a significant risk of harm. For example, this includes fakes of lifesaving drugs (e.g., for cancer, HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, and hepatitis) and counterfeit auto parts.

The use and consumption of counterfeit products was resulting in death and body injury to millions of people around the world, explained Fred Muwema, legal director of ACN, talking with the trade magazine WTR. “In fact, the perception that crimes against humanity are committed only in the context of armed conflict is now outdated. These crimes are being committed cheaply through trademark infringement by economic terrorists without firing a single shot,” said Muwema.

As an example, ACN mentions the impact of counterfeiting on the Covid-19 pandemic, as fakes would undermine the fight against the corona virus. In particular, fake vaccines would cause an increase in public apprehension. In contrast, one aim of the ACN’s petition is to ensure that the threat of criminal sanctions by the International Criminal Court acts as a stronger deterrent for counterfeiters. This would make counterfeiting riskier for offenders, compared to the current situation.

However, other legal experts remain sceptical about whether counterfeits should really be considered a crime against humanity. For example, the Belgium-based lawyer Kristof Neefs argues on Twitter that the petition is “way off the mark”.


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Sources: ACN, World Trademark Review (WTR)

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