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Lafarge lawsuit (re complicity in crimes against humanity in Syria)

In 2011, 11 former Syrian employees and two NGOs filed a criminal complaint before French courts against Lafarge, a cement company, for alleged abuses committed in Syria by its subsidiary. Lafarge is charged with complicity in war crimes, crimes against humanity, financing of a terrorist enterprise, and forced labour. The lawsuit is ongoing. 

 

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In November 2016, 11 former Syrian employees and two NGOs filed a criminal complaint before French courts against the cement company, Lafarge, for alleged abuses committed in Syria by its subsidiary Lafarge Cement Syria (LCS).

Lafarge is charged for complicity in war crimes, crimes against humanity, financing of a terrorist enterprise, deliberate endangerment of people's lives and forced labour. These charges are based on facts occurring between 2011 and 2014 when Lafarge decided to maintain its business activities in Syria in the midst of the Syrian Civil War. In order to do so, the company allegedly bought raw material from diverse jihadists groups, among which ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), and allegedly negotiated safe passage of its workers and products in exchange for compensations amounting to 13 million euros. 

In 2015, Lafarge merged with Holcim. Lafarge-Holcim immediately announced that its subsidiary Lafarge SA would appeal in an effort to challenge "offenses that do not fairly reflect (its) responsibilities."The plaintiffs are now demanding the opening of a compensation fund for all former employees of LCS and their families. In October 2018, the investigative magistrates seized part of Lafarge ex-executives’ severance payments, about 2.475 million euros.

In June 2017, the Paris Public Prosecutor opened an investigation for financing terrorism. On 28 June 2018, Lafarge was indicted by French investigative judges for complicity in crimes against humanity. It named as defendants the group Lafarge itself (98% shareholder of LCS), its Syrian subsidiary, two senior executives at the time (Bruno Lafont, and Bruno Pescheux) and its current CEO (Frédéric Jolibois).

In October 2019, the Paris appeals court dismissed the request of the two NGOs to be civil parties in the case. On 7 November 2019, a French appeal court dropped the crimes against humanity charges against the company. Sherpa adn ECCHR will appeal to the Supreme Court.


- "France's Lafarge has charge of crimes against humanity lifted: lawyers", Reuters, 7 Nov 2019
- “LafargeHolcim’s French unit under formal investigation over Syria activities”, Financial Times, 28 Jun 2018
- "Lafarge paid 13 million euros to armed groups to keep operating in Syria, rights group say", Emmanuelle Jarry, Reuters, 12 Dec 2017
- “France launches judicial inquiry into activities of Lafarge over allegations of financing terrorist enterprise & endangering lives in Syria", Reuters, 13 Jun 2017
- “LafargeHolcim's CEO resigns following evidence of the company's indirect financing of armed groups in Syria”, AFP, 16 May 2017
- “Lafarge Scandal Points to Difficulty for Businesses in War Zones”, New York Times, 24 Apr 2017

Lafarge:

- LafargeHolcim concludes independent investigation into legacy Syria operations and issues summary of investigation findings, 24 Apr 2017

Sherpa:

- “Landmark Decision in Lafarge Case”, 28 Jun 2018
- "Submission from SHERPA and ECCHR on an indictment of Lafarge for complicity in crimes against humanity", 15 May 2018 
- “Important step in the « Lafarge in Syria » case: Nomination of three investigative judges”, 13 Jun 2017
- “Lafarge in Syria: the conclusion of their internal report admitted the implication of the parent company”, 24 Apr 2017

ECCHR:

- Sherpa and ECCHR to appeal decision in Lafarge/Syria case at French Supreme Court, 7 Nov 2019
-“Can the Lafarge case be a game changer? French multinational company indicted for international crimes in Syria”, 31 Aug 2018

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