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11 Nov 2009

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

DLH lawsuit (re Liberian civil war)

Status: CLOSED

Date lawsuit was filed
11 Nov 2009
Human rights group
Location of Filing: France
Location of Incident: Liberia
Type of Litigation: Transnational


DLH (Dalhoff Larsen & Horneman) Denmark Logging & lumber


Snapshot: In November 2009, NGOs filed a criminal complaint in France against DLH for allegedly buying timber from Liberian companies whose revenues were used to fund illegal arms and ammunition procurement during the Liberian civil war. In February 2013, prosecution dismissed the case and requested no further action.

On 11 November 2009, Global Witness and Sherpa together with Greenpeace France, Amis de la Terre and Alfred Brownell, a Liberian activist, lodged a legal complaint before the Public Prosecutor at the Court of Nantes, France, against Dalhoff, Larsen and Horneman (DLH).

The complaint alleges that during the Liberian civil war, from 2002-2003, DLH bought timber from Liberian companies that provided support to Charles Taylor’s government.  The group claims that revenues from the timber industry were used to fuel the civil war by being a major source of funding for the Liberian Government’s extra-budgetary (un-official) activities such as procurement of arms and ammunition in breach of UN sanctions.  DLH allegedly continued to buy timber from Liberian suppliers despite strong evidence (including UN reports) of their involvement in corruption, tax evasion, environmental degradation, UN arms sanctions violations and human rights abuses.  The complainants further charge that DLH’s suppliers were not legally entitled to fell the timber sold to the company, and that DLH France and DLH Nordisk A/S (both part of DLH) are therefore guilty of “recel” – the handling of and profiting from goods obtained illegally, which is a crime under French law.

In response to the complaint, DLH stated that it is a “pioneer” in timber certification. A spokesman for DLH France stated that all of company’s imports are legal.

On 15 February 2013, the prosecutor dismissed the case and required "no further action".

- French Logging Company Sued for Role in Liberian Civil War, Daily Observer [Liberia], 14 Dec 2009
- [FR] DLH accusé d'avoir financé la guerre au Liberia, Béatrice Héraud, Novethic, 19 Nov 2009

- DLH: [PDF] DLH Social and Human Rights Policy
- Global Witness: [PDF] Bankrolling Brutality: Why European timber company DLH should be held to account for profiting from Liberian conflict timber, Feb 2010
- Global Witness: International timber company DLH accused of funding Liberian war, 18 Nov 2009
- Sherpa, Global Witness, Greenpeace, Amis de la Terre: [FR] [PDF] Document d’information sur l’entreprise forestière internationale DLH accusée de financer la guerre au Libéria