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31 Aug 2018

Claire Tixeire, Legal Advisor, European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights

Can the Lafarge case be a game changer? French multinational company indicted for international crimes in Syria

The story of the multinational corporation Lafarge in Syria could be one more blatant illustration of companies putting economic and strategic interests ahead of human rights. Or it could be a game changer. The corporate group has been indicted for complicity in crimes against humanity, and eight of its former executives, including two former CEOs, have been charged with criminal offenses. There are reasons to believe that the Lafarge case in France will mark a turning point in the desolate landscape of impunity that usually surrounds activities of corporate actors in conflict zones. The ongoing formal investigation was opened in response to the criminal complaint filed in Paris in November 2016 by eleven former employees, together with Sherpa and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR)... Further indictments are possible before the investigation closes in the coming months. The parties will stand ready for trial. Lafarge was already ordered to give a 30 million euro security deposit, one which may guarantee appropriate damages are paid at a trial which seems increasingly likely. The next years will tell of the impact of the Lafarge case on holding corporate actors to account for human rights crimes...