Investigation resumes in the case of concealment of Liberian blood timber v. DLH: an important step forward in the defense of Human Rights

Press release – 29 March 2018

Investigation resumes in the case of concealment of Liberian blood timber v. DLH: an important step forward in the defense of Human Rights

On March 22, the Investigation Chamber of the Montpellier’s Court of Appeal overruled the decision made by the examining magistrate in December 2017 to discontinue criminal proceedings, thus ordering the continuation of the investigation proceedings for concealment of Liberian timber blood by the multinational corporation DLH, leader in timber trading.[1] Beyond the great victory this decision represents for the case, our associations also welcome the legal step forward that this decision marks in the fight against multinational impunity.

DLH (« Dalhoff Larsen and Horneman ») imported timber from Liberian logging concessions in the middle of the Civil war, between 2001 and 2003, when this trade may have directly financed the violent armed repression of Charles Taylor’s regime, since sentenced by the Special Court for Sierra Leone for crimes against humanity.

In December 2009, Sherpa, Greenpeace France, Global Witness and Green Advocates filed a complaint against DLH on a legal ground never used against a multinational corporation for its foreign activities before: concealment of money coming from corruption and trading in influence.

The crime of concealment, which consists of being in possession of goods obtained illegally or benefiting from the proceeds of crime, could be an effective legal ground to engage the liability of a multinational taking advantage of serious human rights violations abroad.

Yet, after 7 years of investigation, the decision of 7 December 2017 to discontinue criminal proceedings significantly reduced this potential interest by limiting the scope of application for this crime. It argued that the facts were time-barredas it could not be proven that DLH still benefited from the trade of illegal timber.

Following the reasoning of our memorandum, the Instruction Chamber redefines the framework of the concealment crime reaffirming that the facts cannot be time-barred [s1] as long as it is not established that the company does not benefit from the concealed fundsanymore.

Sherpa welcomes this decision that once again represents a legal improvement regarding multinationals liability for alleged violations of human rights, and their involvement in armed conflicts.

PRESS CONTACT

Marie-Laure Guislain, head of litigation: 01 42 21 33 25 

More information on the DLH case available here: https://www.asso-sherpa.org/dlh-liberia-dismissal-without-further-action-or-explanation

[1] http://www.dlh-france.fr/~/media/files/Website%20specific%20files/France/Catalogue/DLH_France_brochures_2015_LR_321164_MJJ.ashx