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7 Sep 2021

Sherpa & the European Center for Constitutional and Human Right (ECCHR)

Historic victory before French Supreme Court on the indictment of multinational Lafarge for complicity in crimes against humanity

Today, France’s highest court, the Cour de cassation, decided that Lafarge’s indictment for complicity in crimes against humanity was wrongly canceled by the Paris Appeals Court. This charge had been issued in connection to payments made by Lafarge to the Islamic State and other armed groups in Syria between 2012 and 2014. Today, the Supreme Court found that knowingly transferring millions of dollars to an organization whose sole purpose is criminal is enough to characterize complicity. The Supreme Court therefore ordered for the case to be sent back to the Appeals Court on this charge.

Today’s decision is deemed crucial for corporate accountability...

The judicial inquiry revealed that between 2012 and 2014, the company, through its Syrian subsidiary Lafarge Cement Syria, allegedly paid up to 13 million euro to various armed groups, including the Islamic State, in order to keep its cement factory in northeastern Syria running. This, in spite of the ongoing war raging at its doorstep and the kidnappings and security threats faced by its employees.

“Today’s decision sends an important message to all companies that profit from or fuel armed conflicts and claim that their business activities are neutral”, explains Cannelle Lavite, legal advisor at ECCHR...

“With this historic decision, it becomes difficult for companies to escape accountability and shift the blame for their wrongdoings or decisions that cause human rights violations to their foreign subsidiaries”, says Franceline Lepany, President at Sherpa.

The court maintains the indictments against Lafarge group for financing of terrorism. The decision on endangering the lives of others has been ordered back to the Appeals Court for review...