Paris / Bogotá / São Paulo – 10 July 2023 – Burdened with a debt of more than $6 billion the French retail group Casino is considering selling its Brazilian and Colombian stores to boost its liquidity. For the coalition of representatives of Indigenous peoples and international CSOs that has taken Casino to court in Paris, even in the event of a sale of its South American stores, the group will still have to face justice for failing in its duty of vigilance with regard to alleged deforestation and violations of the rights of Indigenous peoples.
At the end of June, following the opening of a conciliation procedure to repay its creditors, the Casino Group announced the sale of its Latin American brands, the Brazilian Grupo Pao de Açucar (GPA) and the Colombian Exito, by the end of 2024. With 1,000 stores in Brazil and more than 2,000 in Colombia, the Casino Group will have generated more than half of its sales (53%) in Latin America in 2022.
Despite the uncertainty hanging over Casino’s future, the coalition say Casino will still have to answer for its actions before the Paris Court. “We cannot accept that groups can circumvent national administrative and legal systems to avoid being held accountable for violations in their supply chains,” says Kari Guajajara, a lawyer from COIAB, a network of Brazilian Indigenous organisations. “In Brazil in particular, we have historically witnessed such strategies and, in many cases, impunity persists and allows criminal practices against peoples and their territories to continue. It is essential that the Casino Group be held accountable for the damage it has caused to date, and that there be no judicial tolerance.”
A recent investigation by InfoAmazonia also confirms that the measures put in place by Casino Group in Brazil are still inadequate in terms of the French supply chain duty of vigilance legislation. The investigation identified 15 beef farms operating illegally in the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau Indigenous territory in Rondônia in the Amazon, which transferred, via other farms, 815 steers between 2018 and 2022 to two JBS slaughterhouses supplying the Casino Group in Brazil. The products from these JBS slaughterhouses were identified in 2023 by Mighty Earth, after the Casino Group had been taken to court in France in March 2021.
The InfoAmazonia report also indicates that the French group’s supply chain has caused material damage estimated at €54 million in this Indigenous territory alone. This result reflects only a tiny part of the impact of the Casino Group, which has a strong presence in Brazil and Colombia.
At a time when deforestation in Colombia has increased by 32% in 2022 and Brazil remains the country most affected by tropical deforestation, the future owners of Casino supermarkets in Brazil and Colombia will have to make control of beef supply chains, particularly indirect suppliers, a top priority.
Press release from:
Sherpa, Canopée, Coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon, Pastoral Land Commission, Envol vert, Federation of Indigenous Peoples of Pará, Federation of Indigenous Peoples and Organizations of Mato Grosso, France Nature Environnement, Mighty Earth, Notre Affaire à Tous, National Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Colombian Amazon.
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