Lafarge & Suez Cement lawsuit (re air pollution, Egypt)
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On 3 October 2016, the Habi Center for Environmental Rights filed a lawsuit at the Egyptian Administrative Court challenging the use of coal by the cement companies Lafarge Egypt (part of LafargeHolcim) and the Suez Cement Group (part of HeidelbergCement). The Habi Center claimed that both companies had failed to disclose required environmental impact assessment studies or details on public hearings before they started using coal in their operations. It also claimed that by using coal without adhering to relevant regulations, the companies were violating the rights to health, healthy environment, participation and access to information, as enshrined in the Egyptian Constitution.
The case was filed before the Administrative Court based on a provision in the Egyptian Environment Law that allows any citizen or association concerned with the environment to seek judicial remedies in response to environmental violations. The Habi Center asked the Administrative Court to compel the government to suspend the license given to Lafarge and Suez Cement to use coal until they disclose their environmental impact assessment studies and details on relevant public hearings. The complaint also asked the Court to order both companies, as well as the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency, to systematically publish the results of public hearings and environmental impact studies on their respective websites.
Prior to commencing litigation, the Habi Center tried to communicate with both companies, as well as the Environmental Affairs Agency, but did not receive satisfactory responses. During the course of proceedings, the Habi Center closed, and the case is now being led by ElSeidi Law Firm.
The Administrative Court has issued a report in the appeal of judgment before the State Council about the use of coal by Lafarge Cement Company and Suez Company. The Court’s report annuls the Environmental Affairs Agency’s administrative decision to abstain from posting the executive summaries of the Environmental Impact Assessments concerning coal use by the Lafarge Cement Company and Suez Company.
Additionally, the Court noted that citizens have a right to initiate litigation for the violation of their environmental rights, provided by Article 103 of the Egyptian Environmental Law that states any individuals or organization interested in protecting the environment has a right to report any violation of environmental law.
On 16 May 2020, the final hearing for the Lafarge & Suez Cement lawsuit was heard. However, the Court decided to reopen the case on 29 August 2020 in order to give the corporations the opportunity to make their pleading in court. The corporations did not attend any session of the trial, despite being legally notified more than once.
- حابىيقدمطعنأماممجلسالدولةضدشركاتالأسمنتووزارةالبيئة,5 أكتوبر 2016، الكاتب: مركزحابيللحقوقالبيئية
- "Response from Suez Cement", 23 Oct 2016
Habi Center for Environmental Rights
- “Habi lodges an appeal in Council State against cement companies and the Ministry of Environment”, 5 Oct 2016
- “Habi Centre awaits response from Egypt's Environmental Affairs Agency regarding cement companies”, 9 Aug 2016
- “Habi Center demands cement multinational companies to stop their violations and commit to local and international law”, 5 Oct 2015