NGOs sue cement manufacturer Lafarge in France for alleged complicity in war crimes in Syria

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Article
28 December 2016

Statement from LafargeHolcim regarding its operations in Syria

Author: LafargeHolcim

Publication date: 15 November 2016

The media has reported the filing of a legal complaint related to the operation of Lafarge's subsidiary in Syria in 2013-2014.  In 2013, the Lafarge manufacturing site in Jalabiyeh was in the middle of a violent conflict zone and the Group's top priority was the safety of its employees...[W]hen the conflict quickly escalated in the area around the plant, Lafarge put a plan in place to progressively evacuate the site.  In September 2014, fewer than 30 employees from the original workforce of 240 were on site when the plant was closed.  These remaining employees were evacuated safely from the plant...All the employees at the plant were paid until December 2015.  Today, the plant is occupied by foreign special forces from the coalition.  The LafargeHolcim Group reconfirms that it has launched a thorough and independent investigation into the allegations.  This investigation, currently underway, is being conducted by several law firms...The Group’s Code of Business Conduct requires strict compliance with all applicable laws, including international law, in all countries in which it operates.  The Group completely rejects the concept of financing of designated terrorist groups.  The investigation will determine whether rules have been followed and if processes need to be adapted.  The Group will implement any remediation measures required.

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Article
6 December 2016

Will European companies be held accountable for their involvement in the Syrian war?

Author: Miriam Saage-Maaß & Patrick Kroker, European Center for Constitutional & Human Rights

A comprehensive war economy has developed in Syria since the beginning of the armed conflict five years ago. This economy is not limited to the supply of weapons to the various state and non-state parties to the conflict and the financing of Islamic State (IS)...[C]ompanies are paying “contributions” to the conflict parties to ensure the continued operation of their business activities in the territory...[L]arge European companies are as well implicated...According to information seen by Le Monde and the NGOs ECCHR (European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, Berlin) and Sherpa (Paris), Lafarge Cement Syria...entered into agreements with IS in order to continue production...The alleged activities constitute potentially criminal acts that must be investigated by the appropriate state prosecutors...[T]wo organisations together with 11 Syrians submitted a criminal complaint in Paris against the cement company Lafarge and its subsidiary LCS...What has long been clear is that in addition to efforts to regulate, there is a need for legal proceedings against individual managers and companies concerning their involvement in crimes relating to business dealings in conflict zones...A society can only find a way to live together peacefully if crimes are investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice...

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Article
15 November 2016

Criminal Complaint against French Cement Company for Terrorism Financing, Complicity of Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes in Syria

Author: Nadia Bernaz, Middlesex University on Rights as Usual

Today French newspaper Le Monde reports that two NGOs, Sherpa and the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights, have brought a criminal complaint in France against the Franco-Swiss cement company LafargeHolcim...Le Monde explains that at the time Lafarge Cement Syria was operating a cement plant in Jalabiya, in the Northern part of Syria, in a zone then controlled by the so-called Islamic State...[T]he cement plant employees as well as businesspeople visiting the plant to buy cement had to pay a fee to the Islamic State to access the plant...The complaint...seems to focus on financing the operations of the Islamic State...The complaint constitutes an important development for the field of business and human rights for at least three reasons...There is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to financial complicity in international crimes...The complaint against LafargeHolcim could be a great opportunity to get some clarity around the precise conditions under which a company can be held criminally liable of aiding and abetting atrocity crimes.

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Article
15 November 2016

French company Lafarge sued for Financing ISIS and Complicity in War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity in Syria

Author: Sherpa & European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights

...Sherpa and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), as well as 11 complainants who are former Syrian employees...are filing suit against cement-manufacturer Lafarge and its subsidiary Lafarge Cement Syria (LCS) for its actions in Syria. By having business relations with the terrorist group ISIS in Syria, this company may have taken part in the financing of the group, being therefore complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity...“The Lafarge case highlights once again how multinationals doing business in conflict zones can directly fuel armed conflicts and contribute to grave human rights violations committed therein. Companies like Lafarge must be held accountable.”..."This is the first time non-profit organizations have filed suit against a multinational corporation for financing terrorist activity and complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity."...According to the information Sherpa and ECCHR collected, LCS would have entered into arrangements with ISIS in order to maintain production, by paying for passes issued by the jihadist organization and buying raw materials necessary for cement production such as oil and pozzolana in areas under ISIS‟s control...

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Article
15 November 2016

Lafarge faces legal complaint over actions in Syria

Author: Sudip Kar-Gupta & Gilles Guillaume, Reuters (USA)

Two human rights groups said on Tuesday they had filed a legal complaint in Paris against cement firm Lafarge, saying some of its work in Syria may have made it complicit in financing Islamic State and in war crimes.  A spokeswoman for Lafarge, which became part of the Swiss-based LafargeHolcim Group last year, said it was investigating the complaint and that it did not do business with organizations classified as terrorists...LCS owns a cement factory in Jalabiya in northern Syria, between the IS stronghold of Raqqa and the town of Manbij.  The company repatriated its expatriate staff in 2012 due to fighting in the region, which came under IS control in 2013...The Lafarge spokeswoman would not comment further on the allegations, but said Lafarge had always prioritized the safety of its employees and partners in Syria...

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Article
15 November 2016

Lafarge sued for financing terrorism

Author: Sherpa

Following our collected elements, Sherpa and ECCHR, as well as 11 complainants who are former syrian employees, represented by maître Marie Dosé and maître Jean-Christophe Ménard, file a complaint to become a civil party to the criminal case by action of a partie civile for

  • Financing terrorism
  • Complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity

against the parent company Lafarge for which Eric Olsen, the current CEO and Bruno Lafont, CEO at the time of the facts are held responsible and against Lafarge Cement Syria, for which Bruno Pescheux and Frédéric Jolibois are respectively held responsible.
This is the first time that NGOs file a complaint against a transnational corporation for financing terrorism and complicity of war crimes and crimes against humanity...

...By filing this complaint, civil society organizations thus are also asking the company to be prosecuted for complicity in war crime and crimes against humanity. Indeed, financing ISIS’s terrorist activities as exposing employees to atrocities committed by the jihadist group would lead the company to be complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by ISIS between Spring 2013 and the end of Summer 2014...

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