Paris/Berlin, 8 June 2021 – Following today’s hearing on French company Lafarge and its involvement in the armed conflict in Syria between 2012-2014, the criminal chamber of the Supreme Court of France (Cour de cassation) announced a decision for 15 July 2021. The court will be ruling on the company’s appeals against the accusations, including complicity in crimes against humanity, as well as the admissibility of human rights organizations Sherpa and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights’ (ECCHR) as plaintiffs.
The decision is deemed crucial as it will address the fundamental question of corporate responsibility for human rights violations, in particular in conflict zones.
The Supreme Court, France’s highest court, is being asked to rule on whether or not the charges of complicity in crimes against humanity, financing terrorism, endangering the lives of other and violating a trade embargo should be maintained.
Sherpa and ECCHR filed the lawsuit against Lafarge together with eleven former Syrian employees in November 2016. The inquiry found that Lafarge had transferred an alleged 13 million euro to armed groups, including the Islamic State, in order to maintain its factory in Syria running.
On November 7, 2019, the Paris Court of Appeals had upheld the indictment of the multinational for deliberately endangering the lives of others, for financing terrorism and for violating a trade embargo. The court had however revoked the indictment for complicity in crimes against humanity committed in Syria – in particular by the Islamic State (IS).
The Supreme Court upcoming decision will have historical repercussions in the fight against the impunity of multinationals contributing to human rights violations, especially in conflict zones as well as victims’ access to justice, and the central role of civil society organizations in defending these rights.
ECCHR, Cannelle LAVITE
Sherpa, Sandra COSSART