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Lahmeyer lawsuit (re dam construction in northern Sudan)

/sites/default/files/images/Merowe%20dam_Sudan_Credit_Sudani.jpgIn May 2010, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) filed a criminal complaint at the department of the public prosecutor in Frankfurt am Main against two executive officers of engineering company Lahmeyer International GmbH, a German contractor responsible for constructing the Merowe dam in northern Sudan. The complaint accused the two Lahmeyer employees of flooding more than 30 villages, causing the forcible displacement of over 4700 families and the destruction of their livelihoods. The complaint alleges the employees knowingly flooded the area without arranging any plans to resettle the community. Lahmeyer denied all accusations in the complaint and promised to investigate the accusations in support of the public prosecution office.

Lahmeyer began construction of the dam in 2004 before the Sudanese Government had agreed on a resettlement plan with the affected Manasir community. In April 2006, while protesters were eating breakfast in the courtyard of Amri school, dam security killed three people and wounded fifty. In June and July 2008, shortly after the hydropower plant went into operation, rising water suddenly flooded the region destroying homes, crops, animals and other sources of livelihood. The Manasir people lost access to adequate shelter, food and drinking water. In April 2011, the prosecutor in Frankfurt accepted the case and began to investigate the matter. On 20 April 2016, the prosecutor decided not to pursue the case.  The plaintiffs have appealed the decision.

In June 2013, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights initiated a complaint before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) on behalf of two Sudanese nationals who were members of the affected community. The complaint alleges the Sudanese government violated the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, which requires states to obtain permission from local communities before beginning projects that could destroy their lands and livelihoods. According to the complaint, the Sudanese government also failed to investigate and prosecute the individuals that killed and wounded protestors in 2006. In February 2016, ACPHR issued a declaration of admissibility so the Commission will now examine the merits of the case.

-"“Sudan Dams” case declared admissible by the African Commission: mass forced evictions, displacement, and forcible suppression of anti-dam demonstrations before the regional body", EIPR, 16 Mar 2016
- "EIPR launches legal action against Sudan for violations arising from the construction of the Merowe and Kajbar dams", EIPR,  07 Oct 2013
- "Sudan: No Clear Studies on Impacts of Merowe Dam", Reem Abbas, 02 Jan 2012
- "Sudan arrests two Germans in relation to dam row", Sudan Tribune, 09 Nov 2011
- "Merowe dam Technical Consultant, Lahmeyer, under investigations", Sudan Tribune, 17 Sep 2011
- "UN expert urges Sudan to respect human rights of communities affected by hydro-electric dam projects", UN Human Rights Council, 27 Aug 2007
- "Barren idea? How Sudan's dam will harness the Nile but widen discord", Andrew England, 07 Mar 2007
- "Sudanese militia kill three people in Merowe dam area," Ali Askouri, 22 Apr 2006
- "Urgent Call for a Negotiated Agreement To End the Violence in the Merowe/Hamadab Dam-Affected Areas," International Rivers Network & The Corner House, 30 Nov 2005
- "Three killed in Sudan protest over Nile dam", AFP, 23 Apr 2006
- "Sudan dam will drown cultural treasures, destroy Nile communities", Ali Askouri, 29 Apr 2004


- Lahmeyer response to ECCHR criminal complaint, 07 May 2010
Lahmeyer response to statement by UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing regarding human rights impacts of Merowe dam, 03 Sep 2007
Lahmeyer comments regarding incident in which 3 civilians were killed during protests over Merowe dam, 03 May 2006
Response of Lahmeyer International to International Rivers Network & Corner House Update on Merowe Dam Project, 15 July 2005
The Merowe Dam in Sudan: Lahmeyer International's Involvement and Assistance, May 2005

 European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights

- Lahmeyer case
- "The Lahmeyer case: Construction with no regard for the human cost", 27 Nov 2015
- "Construction regardless of the consequences? Background information regarding the ECCHR's criminal complaint against Lahmeyer", May 2010
- Criminal complaint against Lahmeyer



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3 November 2016

German prosecutors close lawsuit against Lahmeyer managers for alleged displacement caused by dam construction in Sudan

Author: European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights

"German managers won't face trial for displacement in Sudan dam case, ECCHR-Newsletter No. 44 (November 2016)", 2 Nov 2016

...After almost five years of investigations and the gathering of evidence from several witnesses, prosecutors in Frankfurt am Main closed the proceedings against two managers from the German firm Lahmeyer International GmbH.  The case showed the negative impacts on economic and social human rights that often go hand in hand with infrastructure projects in authoritarian states.  The German company was closely involved in the construction of the Merowe Dam in northern Sudan. When the dam became operational in 2008, more than 30 villages were flooded, forcing over 4,700 families to leave their homes. The prosecutors decided they couldn’t establish any intent on the part of the suspects . In May 2010, a criminal complaint was submitted against Lahmeyer staff by those affected by the flooding, with assistance from ECCHR.  The complaint accused the managers of bearing part of the responsibility for the displacement of these families and the destruction of their livelihoods...

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16 March 2016

African Commission will examine case filed by communities suffering impacts of dam-building in Sudan

Author: Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, DeJusticia

“Sudan Dams” case declared admissible by the African Commission: mass forced evictions, displacement, and forcible suppression of anti-dam demonstrations before the regional body

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) has decided to examine a case against the Republic of Sudan involving forced eviction, inadequate compensation and suppression of protesters during the building of two dams in Northern Sudan… The construction of the Merowe Dam began in 2003 and was completed in 2009 without prior consultation with the elected leaders of the affected communities, resulting in the alleged displacement and forced eviction of over 50.000 people...The construction of the Kajbar Dam began in 2005, also without prior consultation with the communities that would be affected. In June 2007, heavily armed Sudanese forces fired on a march protesting the construction of the Kajbar Dam, killing four, wounding more than fifteen others.

[Companies involved in the building of the two dams include Lahmeyer, Sinohydro and Harbin Power Engineering]

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20 March 2015

New guide for funders: "Advancing human rights accountability for economic actors"

Author: Daria Caliguire, SAGE Fund - Strengthening Accountability in the Global Economy

"Advancing Human Rights Accountability for Economic Actors: An introductory field guide for funders", Jan 2015

Advancing Human Rights Accountability for Economic Actors - credit:  SAGE F und – Strengthening Accountability in the Global Economy

[This guide provides]...an overview of a select set of strategies that seek to hold economic actors (primarily non-state actors) accountable to human rights obligations. We hope that this mapping:

  • Introduces an important body of work, issues and approaches to donors and others with an interest in learning more
  • Highlights some key opportunities for support and impact
  • Begins a conversation in the field among donors and activists, spurring additional strategy development, field building and investment

...This guide is a reference for funders seeking a broad overview of efforts to hold economic actors – corporations, development finance institutions, and others – accountable to human rights obligations within the larger field of human rights and the global economy. It provides an introduction to some of the field’s complex range of institutions, actors, and approaches… [It] examines more traditional human rights strategies that focus on enforcement as a means of advancing accountability, rather than engagement...

Contents [include]...

State of the Field: Focus on Enforcement
   1. Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives: Movement toward Binding Agreements
      Binding Agreements and Worker-Driven Social Responsibility

   2. International Standard-Setting: Renewed Momentum for Binding International Obligations
      United Nations Guiding Principles; International Treaty on Business and Human Rights

   3. Development Finance Safeguards: New Push for Strengthened Standards

   4. Accountability Mechanisms: Need for Compliance and Remedy
      OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises; IFI Complaints Mechanisms; ECA Complaint Mechanisms

   5. Regulatory Regimes: Gaining Traction with Disclosure and Due Diligence...

   6. Legal Strategies: Constructing Accountability and Access to Remedy
      Corporate Liability; Access to Remedy; Extra-Territorial Obligations 

Emerging Issues: Rise of Private Finance; Fiscal Policy and Financial Regulation; Increasing Influence of BRICS; Trade and Investment Agreements; Climate Finance

A Call for Donor Action: Regulation; Legal Strategies; Field Building

[refers to Vale, Coca-Cola, Dinant, Posco, Pacific Rim; lawsuits against Lahmeyer, Nestlé, Argor-Heraeus, Anvil Mining (now part of China Minmetals), HudBay Minerals]

Read the full post here

9 November 2011

Sudan arrests two Germans in relation to dam row

Author: Sudan Tribune

Two German citizens have been arrested in Sudan on suspicion of attempting to collect information about claims of displacement arising from the construction of Merowe Dam upcountry...More than 100,000 persons have been displaced in Nile River state in northern Sudan due to the 2010 construction of the Chinese-engineered Merowe Dam on the Fourth cataract of the River Nile...The two suspects, a man and a woman, are accused by the authorities of seeking to generate international publicity around the issue of Merowe Dam’s affected population...[T]he authorities suspect that the two Germans traveled to the Nile River State in order to collect further evidence on the involvement of a German company in the construction of the dam. This is in reference to the German consultant, Lahmeyer...which has come under investigation on charges stemming from a complaint filed by the European Center of Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) against the background of the company’s participation in the dam construction.

Read the full post here

17 September 2011

Merowe dam Technical Consultant, Lahmeyer, under investigations [Germany]

Author: Sudan Tribune

Lahmeyer...the German consultant is under investigations with regard to its involvement in Merowe dam project in Sudan...Merowe dam project, also known as Hamdab dam, is a hydroelectric project on the River Nile Fourth cataracts...It was completed in 2010 and has caused the displacement of more than 100,000 individual from three riverian communities, hamdab, Amri and the Manasir. The matter arose last year from a criminal complaint presented by the European Center of Constitutional and Human Rights...The attorneys Wolfgang Kaleck and Miriam Saage-Maaß accuse the Corporation Lahmeyer of coercion and damage of property...The Corporation, based in Bad Vilbel (Germany), is believed to have violated the right to property, the right to food and the right to adequate housing...According to Frankfurt Prosecutor’s Office/Main, Lahmeyer is supposed to submit a statement by autumn.

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Company response
6 May 2010

[Response regarding ECCHR complaint over impacts of Merowe dam project in Sudan

Author: Lahmeyer

Lahmeyer International has taken notice of the press release by ECCHR regarding the power plant project Merowe in Sudan and the accusations against LI's management and employees reported to the Frankfurt public prosecution office. LI fully rejects the accusations. The management has assured the public prosecution office of its full support to investigate the accusations and will cooperate closely with the investigating authority.

Read the full post here