Paris/Berlin, 15 July 2021 – Today, the French Supreme Court (Cour de cassation) was expected to issue its decision in the case against French multinational Lafarge in connection to its activities in Syria between 2012 and 2014. However, the court has postponed the decision to 7 September 2021. The Supreme Court will rule on the appeals filed against the indictments for complicity in crimes against humanity, financing terrorism, endangering peoples’ lives and violating an embargo. The court will also decide on appeals filed by Sherpa and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights ECCHR on their admissibility as civil parties.
The Supreme Court decision is deemed historic in the fight against impunity of multinational companies contributing to human rights violations, in particular in armed conflicts. It will also be a landmark decision regarding the issue of access to justice for survivors of grave crimes and the unique role of civil society organizations in the defense of these rights.
In November 2016, Sherpa and ECCHR had filed a complaint against Lafarge with eleven former Syrian employees of Lafarge. The judicial inquiry revealed that the company, through its Syrian subsidiary Lafarge Cement Syria, allegedly paid up to 13 million euro to various armed groups, including the Islamic State, in order to keep its cement factory in northeastern Syria running.
On 7 November 2019, the Paris Court of Appeals had upheld the indictment of the multinational for deliberate endangerment of people’s lives, financing of terrorism and violation of an embargo. However, the court had overturned the indictment for complicity in crimes against humanity committed in Syria – notably by the Islamic State (EI).