British excavation giant JCB to be investigated over potential violations of international law in the occupied Palestinian territories
In August 2018, Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR) raised human rights concerns with JCB regarding its involvement in the imminent demolition of Khan al-Ahmar, a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank. JCB’s products have reportedly already been used to level access roads to the village. According to LPHR, Israel's planned demolition of Khan al-Ahmar would lead to the forcible transfer of 181 inhabitants, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The letter further argues that while JCB does not directly supply the Israeli authorities with its products, the UN Guiding Principles and OECD Guidelines oblige JCB to: “prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to their operations, products or services by their business relationships, even if they have not contributed to those impacts.” Given JCB’s business relationship with Comasco (it’s distributor in Israel), JCB has a responsibility to prevent human rights abuses linked to entities in its value chain.
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited JCB to respond to these allegations, but the company did not respond.
In December 2019, LPHR filed a complaint against JCB with the UK National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The complaint alleges that between 2016 and 2019, JCB products were used in "incidents in ten villages or areas in the occupied Palestinian territory" in which 89 homes were demolished and at least 484 individuals displaced.
The complaint calls for JCB to cease business with Comasco, to publish its human rights policy and due diligence procedures, and to ensure effective access to remedy for impacted individuals.
In an initial assessment issued on Monday 12 October, the UK National Contact Point (NCP) which is part of UK’s Department of International Trade, acknowledged the complaint submitted by the LPHR. The assessment found that JCB may have breached OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
JCB’s apparent failure to address the material and prolific use of its products in demolition and displacement incidents that cruelly impacts Palestinian families, and also its use in settlement-related construction which creates pervasive human rights violations, must cease immediately.LPHR Director Tareq Shrourou