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18 Mai 2022

Sherpa & the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR)

Charges Confirmed against Lafarge for Complicity in Crimes against Humanity in Syria

Today, the Investigative Chamber of the Paris Court of Appeals decided: French multinational Lafarge is facing the charge of complicity in crimes against humanity. Lafarge, via its subsidiary, has allegedly paid up to 13 million euro to several armed groups including the Islamic State in order to keep its Syrian cement factory running. ECCHR and Sherpa, the NGOs which initiated this case, welcome this decisive ruling which confirms that a company alleged of knowingly paying several million euro to a criminal organisation, can face charges of complicity in the gravest crimes.

Today’s ruling follows the 7 September 2021 groundbreaking decision of the Cour de cassation, France’s highest court, which had clarified the legal framework under which a company may be charged with complicity in crimes against humanity...

...Lafarge also remains charged with deliberately endangering the lives of its Syrian employees.

Mohammad, a former employee of Lafarge Cement Syria and plaintiff in the case, reacted: “Today’s decision brings us one step closer to justice. For the sake of profits, Lafarge put me and my colleagues’ lives at risk. It is important that such big corporations see that they can be held accountable, and that power and wealth do not allow them to act without consequences.”

“This ruling should be a strong wake-up call for companies doing business in conflict zones. Companies can no longer justify their involvement in criminal actions with financial reasons. If they enable or fuel crimes – even if they only pursue commercial purposes – they might be complicit and should be held accountable”, stated Cannelle Lavite, co-director of ECCHR’s business and human rights program...