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Ford lawsuit (re Argentina)

Argentina illegal detention centre during dictatorship - photo by Pablo D Flores

Para la versión en español de este perfil de las demandas judiciales, haga clic acá.

In October 2002, a federal prosecutor in Argentina filed a criminal complaint against the executives of Ford Motor Argentina, alleging that the company collaborated with the 1976-83 military dictatorship.  The complaint accused Ford of helping the regime in political repression, abductions and mistreatment of Ford’s workers and union organisers.  These abuses allegedly took place on the company’s premises.  Argentina’s Third Federal Court initiated the criminal investigation in November 2002.  Following this investigation, in December 2006, the public prosecutor charged that the military operated a detention centre within Ford’s factory complex and that company officials helped Argentinean officials to kidnap 25 company employees and trade union leaders who were later illegally detained and tortured.  In response to the charges, Ford’s spokesman said that the company asked for army protection because it was targeted by guerrillas but denied that this led to the establishment of a “detention centre”. 

On 23 January 2004, another lawsuit was filed on behalf of Argentine workers and union organisers against Ford Motor and Ford Motor Argentina in the US District Court in Los Angeles.  The plaintiffs alleged that Ford managers conspired with the military regime in the commission of human rights violations in a detention centre run from Ford’s factory in Buenos Aires.  The suit charged that 25 former Ford employees were illegally detained and tortured, and at least one of them “disappeared”.  The plaintiffs also alleged that the company provided information about its workers to the military and was therefore complicit in their mistreatment and illegal detention.  The plaintiffs claimed that they had suffered severe and irreparable physical and emotional injuries, including depression, loss of sight and loss of reproductive function.  The US case stalled in late 2004 when a legal precedent set in an unrelated case forced the plaintiffs to withdraw their claim from US courts until it had first been heard in Argentina - a route blocked at the time by Argentine amnesty laws.  In June 2005, Argentina’s Supreme Court struck down the amnesty laws, reopening the possibility of human rights litigation in Argentina for abuses committed during the dictatorship period.

Following Argentina’s Supreme Court decision, in February 2006, a similar lawsuit was filed on behalf of the former workers and union organizers against Ford Argentina in Argentina’s 35th Civil Court.  Aside from the allegations already raised in the US suit, the plaintiffs accuse Ford of using violence to get rid of trade union activity at its factory in Buenos Aires. 

In May 2013 three former Ford executives were indicted for crimes against humanity, following the criminal investigation that begun in 2002. The three men were accused of giving names, ID numbers, pictures and home addresses to security forces who hauled two dozen union workers off the floor of Ford's factory in suburban Buenos Aires to be tortured and interrogated and then sent to military prisons. 
The trial began in December 2017, after having been postponed twice. Guillermo Galarraga, one of the three ex-executives accused, died in the time between the beginning of the investigation and the trial. Two hearings were held in December 2017, during which twelve of the 24 workers still alive testified. The other two former Ford executives Pedro Müller and Héctor Francisco Sibilla were not present. 

On 20 February 2018, the San Martín Federal Oral Court N 1 in Argentina began the public hearing against two former Ford Motor Argentina executives. Two former Ford factory workers witnessed during the trial, alleging Ford had a clandestine detention center inside the factory, where 24 workers were kidnapped and tortured between March and April 1976.  On 11 December 2018, the Court announced its verdict. Two former Ford executives, Pedro Muller and Hector Sibila, were convicted for abduction and torture of 24 workers and sentenced to 10 and 12 years respectively.

- "Argentina: two ex-Ford executives convicted in torture case", The Guardian, 11 Dec 2018
- [ES] "La lista de la Ford", El Cohete a la Luna, 3 June 2018
- [ES] "La coordinación", El Cohete a la Luna, 24 May 2018
- [ES] "Causa Ford: avanza el juicio y los relatos siguen apuntando a los gerentes", Tiempoar, 8 March 2018
- [ES] "Argentina. Comienzan las declaraciones en el histórico juicio por crímenes de lesa humanidad en Ford", Kaosenlared, 21 Feb 2018
- [ES] "Luchamos 40 años para esto, mañana le diremos a la sociedad lo que Ford hizo con nosotros", La Izquierda Diario, 19 Feb 2018
- [ES] "Genocidio: se realizó la segunda audiencia del juicio contra exgerentes de Ford", 29 Dec 2017
- "Ex-Ford execs charged in Argentine tortures", AP, 21 May 2013
- [ES] “Riveros y la Ford” (“Riveros and Ford”), Página/12, 1 Aug 2007
- [ES] “Automotrices y dictadura” (“Automobile companies and dictatorship”), Página/12, 21 Dec 2006
- [DOC] “The Case against Ford”, Karen Robert, 3 Jun 2006
- [ES] “Historia de los secuestros” (“A story of kidnappings”), Página/12, 26 Feb 2006
- [ES] “La alianza de capital y fierros” (“The partnership between company and military”), Página/12, 26 Feb 2006
- “Ford sued over Argentine abuses”, BBC, 24 Feb 2006
- [ES] “Demandan a la Ford por el secuestro de gremialistas durante la dictadura” (“Ford is sued in relation with the kidnappings of union workers during the dictatorship”), Página/12, 24 Feb 2006
- [ES] “Víctimas de la dictadura argentina acusan a Ford de "terrorismo empresarial"” (“Victims of the Argentinian dictatorship accuse Ford of “corporate terrorism””), La Jornada, 23 Feb 2006
- [ES] “Denuncian a Ford por torturas y desaparición de obreros durante la dictadura argentina” (“Ford is accused of torture and the enforced disappearance of workers during the Argentinian dictatorship”), El Mundo, 26 Jan 2004
- “Ford Motor is Linked to Argentina's 'Dirty War'”, Larry Rother, New York Times, 27 Nov 2002

- [DOC] Rejoinder to Ford’s response to allegations of involvement in abuses during the military dictatorship (1976-1983), Tomás Ojea Quintana , 20 Apr 2007
- [ES] [DOC] Respuesta a Ford sobre la supuesta participación de la empresa en abusos de derechos humanos durante la dictadura militar en Argentina, Tomás Ojea Quintana , 20 Apr 2007
- [DOC] Statement on allegations of involvement in abuses, Ford, 8 Mar 2007  
- [ES] [DOC] Declaración de los demandantes en el caso criminal contra operarios de Ford(Plaintiffs’ declaration in the criminal case against Ford), Sep 2006

- [ES] "Ford: comenzó el juicio por la complicidad de empresarios con la dictadura", Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS), 19 Dec 2017
- [ES] "Responsabilidad empresarial en delitos de lesa humanidad: represión a trabajadores durante el terrorismo de Estado, Ford", Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS), 14 Dec 2015

- [ES] [PDF] Causa nro. 4012/3, 20 May 2013 [indictment of the 3 former Ford executives]

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Reporte
14 December 2015

Responsabilidad empresarial en delitos de lesa humanidad: represión a trabajadores durante el terrorismo de Estado: Ford

Autor(a): Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS)

...Se ha constatado la existencia de 37 víctimas del terrorismo de Estado que fueron trabajadores de la empresa Ford Motor, de General Pacheco. Asimismo se ha podido establecer que la represión estuvo particularmente centrada en la acción sobre el cuerpo de delegados. Del total de víctimas registradas a la fecha, 24 trabajadores y delegados detenidos en el año 1976 han señalado de manera contundente la participación de los directivos de Ford en los procesos de secuestros, detenciones y torturas de las que fueron objeto.

...En el caso de la empresa Ford existen una multiplicidad de evidencias y testimonios que involucran directamente a la empresa, no solo en el conocimiento de las implicancias del terrorismo de Estado sobre sus trabajadores, sino también en un lugar activo en torno a la acción represiva sobre un conjunto de obreros que, principalmente por su actividad gremial, resultaban negativos a los fines del disciplinamiento que la empresa promovía. En el predio de la empresa se montó un centro clandestino de detención que funcionó en el espacio del quincho del campo de deportes. Además, la misma empresa confeccionó un listado de trabajadores que entregó a las fuerzas represivas para que procedan a la detención de dichas personas. Para ello, los directivos de Ford facilitaron desde los legajos personales y fotografías de sus empleados hasta camionetas para los traslados. Asimismo, el conocimiento que la empresa tenía acerca de las detenciones es claro, ya que varias de ellas se produjeron en el interior de la fábrica, en horario laboral y frente a compañeros y directivos. A esto se suma que recibieron la contribución de camionetas F100 así como también el hecho de que le fue facilitado el almuerzo diario al personal militar allí asentado...

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Artículo
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Autor(a): Gastón Chillier, Executive Director, Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) on openGlobalRights Blog

Argentina-protests-corporate-complicity

Argentina put its dictators on trial after the 1976-1983 reign of state terror. Now courts are investigating the role of prominent corporations in the kidnapping, torture and disappearance of their workers. The debate over how to tackle corporate involvement in human rights violations is intensifying worldwide....Argentina’s experience in seeking justice for crimes committed during its 1976-1983 dictatorship serves as an important reference...In 1986 and 1987, Argentina’s Congress passed amnesty laws that blocked the prosecution of many crimes against humanity committed during military rule. The laws were eventually repealed and declared unconstitutional—in 2003 and 2005, respectively—and hundreds of dictatorship-era cases were brought or reopened. The Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) has broadened its efforts to seek accountability on the issue of corporate complicity in crimes against humanity, aiding prosecution efforts through a three-pronged strategy of litigation, research and advocacy. [refers to Ford, Molinos Río de la Plata, Mercedes-Benz (part of Daimler), Ledesma, Minera Aguilar (part of Glencore Xstrata), La Veloz del Norte]

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Demanda
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18 February 2014

Ford lawsuit (re Argentina)

Autor(a): Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

In October 2002, a federal prosecutor in Argentina filed a criminal complaint against the executives of Ford Motor Argentina, alleging that the company collaborated with the 1976-83 military dictatorship.  The complaint accused Ford of helping the regime in political repression, abductions and mistreatment of Ford’s workers and union organisers.  These abuses allegedly took place on the company’s premises.  Argentina’s Third Federal Court initiated the criminal investigation in November 2002.  Following this investigation, in December 2006, the public prosecutor charged that the military operated a detention centre within Ford’s factory complex and that company officials helped Argentinean officials to kidnap 25 company employees and trade union leaders who were later illegally detained and tortured.  In response to the charges, Ford’s spokesman said that the company asked for army protection because it was targeted by guerrillas but denied that this led to the establishment of a “detention centre”. 

On 23 January 2004, another lawsuit was filed on behalf of Argentine workers and union organisers against Ford Motor and Ford Motor Argentina in the US District Court in Los Angeles.  The plaintiffs alleged that Ford managers conspired with the military regime in the commission of human rights violations in a detention centre run from Ford’s factory in Buenos Aires.  The suit charged that 25 former Ford employees were illegally detained and tortured, and at least one of them “disappeared”.  The plaintiffs also alleged that the company provided information about its workers to the military and was therefore complicit in their mistreatment and illegal detention.  The plaintiffs claimed that they had suffered severe and irreparable physical and emotional injuries, including depression, loss of sight and loss of reproductive function.  The US case stalled in late 2004 when a legal precedent set in an unrelated case forced the plaintiffs to withdraw their claim from US courts until it had first been heard in Argentina - a route blocked at the time by Argentine amnesty laws.  In June 2005, Argentina’s Supreme Court struck down the amnesty laws, reopening the possibility of human rights litigation in Argentina for abuses committed during the dictatorship period.

Following Argentina’s Supreme Court decision, in February 2006, a similar lawsuit was filed on behalf of the former workers and union organizers against Ford Argentina in Argentina’s 35th Civil Court.  Aside from the allegations already raised in the US suit, the plaintiffs accuse Ford of using violence to get rid of trade union activity at its factory in Buenos Aires.  In May 2013 three former Ford executives were indicted for crimes against humanity.  The three men are accused of giving names, ID numbers, pictures and home addresses to security forces who hauled two dozen union workers off the floor of Ford's factory in suburban Buenos Aires to be tortured and interrogated and then sent to military prisons. 

- "Ex-Ford execs charged in Argentine tortures", AP, 21 May 2013
- [ES] “Riveros y la Ford” (“Riveros and Ford”), Página/12, 1 Aug 2007
- [ES] “Automotrices y dictadura” (“Automobile companies and dictatorship”), Página/12, 21 Dec 2006
- [DOC] “The Case against Ford”, Karen Robert, 3 Jun 2006
- [ES] “Historia de los secuestros” (“A story of kidnappings”), Página/12, 26 Feb 2006
- [ES] “La alianza de capital y fierros” (“The partnership between company and military”), Página/12, 26 Feb 2006
- “Ford sued over Argentine abuses”, BBC, 24 Feb 2006
- [ES] “Demandan a la Ford por el secuestro de gremialistas durante la dictadura” (“Ford is sued in relation with the kidnappings of union workers during the dictatorship”), Página/12, 24 Feb 2006
- [ES] “Víctimas de la dictadura argentina acusan a Ford de "terrorismo empresarial"” (“Victims of the Argentinian dictatorship accuse Ford of “corporate terrorism””), La Jornada, 23 Feb 2006
- [ES] “Denuncian a Ford por torturas y desaparición de obreros durante la dictadura argentina” (“Ford is accused of torture and the enforced disappearance of workers during the Argentinian dictatorship”), El Mundo, 26 Jan 2004
- “Ford Motor is Linked to Argentina's 'Dirty War'”, Larry Rother, New York Times, 27 Nov 2002

- [DOC] Rejoinder to Ford’s response to allegations of involvement in abuses during the military dictatorship (1976-1983), Tomás Ojea Quintana , 20 Apr 2007
- [ES] [DOC] Respuesta a Ford sobre la supuesta participación de la empresa en abusos de derechos humanos durante la dictadura militar en Argentina, Tomás Ojea Quintana , 20 Apr 2007
- [DOC] Statement on allegations of involvement in abuses, Ford, 8 Mar 2007 
- [ES] [DOC] Declaración de los demandantes en el caso criminal contra operarios de Ford (Plaintiffs’ declaration in the criminal case against Ford), Sep 2006

- [ES] [PDF] Causa nro. 4012/3, 20 May 2013 [indictment of the 3 former Ford executives]

Artículo
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Autor(a): Sudeep Chakravarti, Livemint.com (India)

Strategic lawsuits against public participation, or SLAPP, is one of several retaliatory mechanisms increasingly used against defenders of human rights…The Resource Centre discusses these and other matters and provides a global situation report in its 2013 annual briefing on corporate legal accountability…Its…list of case studies…contains recent and ongoing accusations and legal debates of various kinds of human rights violations…attributed to a total of 52 companies across the world. It is of little surprise that human rights lawyers and activists would get SLAPPed about, as it were, or face the legal weight of businesses that far outweigh their own. The stakes, both in perception and finance, are immense…[T]he briefing adds directional value by flagging issues that it expects will affect this space…This is happening, and will happen, in countries where infractions and crimes are perceived as being committed; and in countries where such businesses are headquartered or invested…[Refers to adidas, Anvil Mining (part of China Minmetals), BASF, China Minmetals, Daimler, Danzer, Dow Chemical, Ford, Lonmin, Shell, Tate & Lyle, Union Carbide (part of Dow), Vedanta Resources, Vinci]

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Artículo
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Autor(a): Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Welcome to the 10th issue of the Corporate Legal Accountability Quarterly Bulletin. To assist all those following corporate legal accountability issues, we send this bulletin to highlight key developments, new cases profiled on our site, updates to existing profiles, and other news. Our Corporate Legal Accountability Portal is an online information hub providing resources for non-lawyers as well as lawyers – including victims, advocates, NGOs, businesspeople, lawyers bringing lawsuits against companies and lawyers defending companies. The portal provides impartial, concise information about lawsuits against companies in which human rights abuses are alleged – its aim is to demystify these lawsuits. Each case profile includes materials from both the plaintiffs and defendants, to the extent they are available…This bulletin is now available in Spanish and French. [Refers to African Barrick Gold, Alstom, BP, CACI, Chevron, Coca-Cola, COMILOG (part of ERAMET), Daimler, Danzer, Dow Chemical, Drummond, ERAMET, Ford, HudBay Minerals, IBM, KBR, Ledesma, Mercedes-Benz (part of Daimler), Monterrico Metals, Nestlé, PA Child Care, Qosmos, Rio Tinto, Shell, Sinter Metal, SNCF, Texaco (part of Chevron), Thomson Safaris, Total, Union Carbide (part of Dow), Vedanta Resources, Veolia (part of Veolia Environnement), Veolia Environnement, Walmart]

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Artículo
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Autor(a): Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

This briefing highlights reports from a range of sources about how businesses have impacted human rights, positively and negatively, in Latin America & the Caribbean over the past two years. The briefing refers to most countries in Latin America. Amanda Romero, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre’s Latin America & the Caribbean Researcher based in Colombia and Julia Neiva, Brazil and Portuguese-speaking countries Researcher and Representative based in Brazil, provide our coverage of these countries. This is not a comprehensive overview. It flags some major issues, cases, developments and trends. For more details see our website, with sections on over 190 countries, more than 5000 companies, and 150 issues.

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Artículo
9 September 2013

[PDF] Empresas y Derechos Humanos en América Latina y el Caribe - Panorama sobre los acontecimientos más recientes

Autor(a): Centro de Información sobre Empresas y Derechos Humanos

Este informe destaca los reportes de un variado rango de fuentes sobre los impactos (negativos y positivos) de las empresas sobre los derechos humanos en América Latina y el Caribe, en los dos últimos años. El informe hace referencia a la mayoría de países de América Latina. Amanda Romero, investigadora y representante para América Latina y el Caribe, con sede en Colombia, y Julia Neiva, investigadora y representante para Brasil y los países de habla portuguesa, con sede en Brasil, del Centro de Información sobre Empresas y Derechos Humanos, hacen un cubrimiento de estos países. El presente informe no es exhaustivo, pero sí destaca algunos de los asuntos, casos, iniciativas y tendencias más importantes. Para mayores detalles, visite nuestro sitio web, en donde encontrará información sobre más de 190 países, más de 5.000 empresas, y 150 temas.

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Artículo
31 August 2013

Cuentas pendientes - Los cómplices económicos de la dictadura [Buenos Aires, 17 de septiembre]

Autor(a): Siglo veintiuno editores (Argentina)

[Horacio Verbitsky y Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky presentan su nuevo libro "Cuentas pendientes - Los cómplices económicos de la dictadura"] Hasta hoy la justicia argentina tuvo el mérito de investigar los delitos de sangre cometidos durante la última dictadura, pero dejó fuera del radar a los actores económicos que interesadamente la promovieron y/o facilitaron, es decir, a las personas, instituciones y empresas que suministraron bienes y servicios al gobierno o que obtuvieron beneficios a cambio de apoyar la ejecución del plan criminal...En...una investigación pionera que logra reunir información sustancial...Horacio Verbitsky y Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, junto con un equipo de prestigiosos autores, sacan a la luz los casos de complicidad civil y económica con la dictadura. Esos casos involucran empresas como Ledesma, Ford, Acindar, Techint o Mercedes Benz [parte de Daimler]...[Buenos Aires, 17 de septiembre]

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Artículo
21 May 2013

Lesa humanidad: procesaron a ex directivos de la empresa Ford [Argentina]

Autor(a): Centro de información judicial (Argentina)

La jueza Alicia Vence…dictó el procesamiento sin prisión preventiva de Pedro Müller, Guillermo Galarraga y Héctor Francisco Jesús Sibilla, ex directivos de la empresa Ford, por crímenes de lesa humanidad cometidos durante la última dictadura militar. En la causa se investigan los secuestros de 24 obreros de esa fábrica automotriz, ocurridos entre el 24 de marzo y el 20 de agosto de 1976. Los tres acusados fueron considerados partícipes primario de los delitos de privación ilegal de la libertad doblemente agravada por haber sido cometida por abuso funcional y con violencia y amenazas…Según la resolución, se les imputa…el haber arbitrado los medios necesarios para señalar e indicar, al personal militar…delegados y empleados…de la empresa Ford Motors Argentina SA, para que de ese modo pudieran ser detenidos por las fuerzas militares, y así ejecutar el plan de represión implementado por el entonces gobierno militar en el interior de esa empresa…

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Artículo
5 December 2012

Detenciones ilegales en la Dictadura: ordenan indagar a ex directivos de Ford [Argentina]

Autor(a): Clarín [Argentina]

Por las detenciones ilegales y tormentos que sufrieron al menos 25 operarios de la automotriz Ford durante el primer año de la dictadura, la jueza federal de San Martín, Alicia Vence, llamó a declaración indagatoria a quienes en ese momento integraban el directorio de la empresa. Los acusa del delito de participación necesaria en la privación ilegitima de la libertad y tomentos que sufrieron los empleados de la compañía. Los cuatro acusados y llamados a indagatoria son: Nicolás Enrique Julián Courard, presidente y representante legal de la compañía Ford Motor Argentina Sociedad Anónima en 1976; Pedro Müller, gerente de manufactura en 1976; Guillermo Galarraga, gerente de relaciones industriales en 1976 y Héctor Francisco Sibilla, jefe de seguridad en 1976…

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