Corporate Exploitation

Business, War & Dictatorships

"Business is business." Corporate executives like to see their actions as politically and legally neutral. But by actions like selling repressive regimes surveillance technologies or buying raw materials from conflict zones, corporate actors can facilitate the persecution of government critics, fan the flames of war and, in some cases, even aid and abet war crimes. The Nuremberg Trials and the subsequent Nuremberg proceedings show how international law can help to challenge this. Where grave human rights crimes are committed, it's not just the political and military leaders who belong before a court. The role of corporate executives and managers in dictatorships and wars can and must also be subject to prosecution.

Argentina

Corporate Exploitation
Grave Crimes

Involvement of Ledesma sugar company in crimes of Argentine military dictatorship

Military Dictatorship

In 2011, ECCHR submitted an amicus curiae brief in the criminal investigation examining sugar company Ledesma's liability for human rights violations during the Argentine military dictatorship.

Argentina

Corporate Exploitation
Grave Crimes

Mercedes Benz supported the Argentine military dictatorship

Military Dictatorship

In the Mercedes Benz case ECCHR is assisting relatives of trade unionists who disappeared from a Mercedes Benz plant in Buenos Aires. A senior manager at the company stands accused of involvement in the disappearances and murders of trade union activists carried out by Argentine security forces.

Argentina

Corporate Exploitation
Grave Crimes

Involvement of mining company in crimes of the Argentine military dictatorship

Military Dictatorship

In 2012, ECCHR submitted a legal brief in the case relating to the unlawful detention and torture of workers of the company Minera Aguilar S.A. during the Argentine military dictatorship (1976-1983).

Brazil

Corporate Exploitation

Volkswagen in Brazil: Automobile group collaborated with military dictatorship

Military Dictatorship

Mercedes Benz in Argentina, Volkswagen in Brazil. Economic players, including multinational automobile companies, were beneficiaries of the military dictatorships in Latin America. A number of cases also point to complicity in the arrest and torture of trade unionists.

Democratic Republic Congo

Corporate Exploitation

No investigations against Danzer manager over human rights abuses against community in DRC

Police Violence

In 2013, ECCHR submitted a criminal complaint against a German manager of timber company Danzer Group. He is accused of aiding and abetting, through omission, the crimes of rape, grievous bodily harm, false imprisonment and arson in the DR Congo.

Yemen

Corporate Exploitation
Grave Crimes

European responsibility for war crimes in Yemen

War crimes

In October 2016, an airstrike – alleged to have been carried out by the Saudi-led military coalition – struck a civilian home in the village of Deir Al-Hajari in northwest Yemen. The intentional directing of attacks against the civilian population amounts to war crimes. ECCHR is taking legal action against this.

Colombia

Corporate Exploitation

Nestlé precedent case: Murder of trade unionist Romero in Colombia

Trade Unionists

ECCHR filed a criminal complaint against Nestlé and some of its top managers in 2012. The complaint accuses the managers of being in breach of their obligations by failing to prevent crimes of Colombian paramilitary groups and failing to adequately protect trade unionists from these crimes.

Mexico

Corporate Exploitation

Brutal police operation in Mexico: Responsibility of German arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch

Arms Exports

In February 2019, the Regional Court in Stuttgart (Germany) convicted employees of the arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch in a case concerning the shipment of rifles to Mexico. The court investigated whether, between 2006 and 2009, Heckler & Koch illegally sold Type G36 rifles to the Mexian police.

Nigeria

Corporate Exploitation

Kiobel Case: ECCHR supports victims of corporate abuse before US Supreme Court

Torture

ECCHR supports claimants in a case of corporate crime in front of the US Supreme Court. The proceedings are a continuation of the high-profile case taken against Shell. The claimants argue that Shell, through its Nigerian subsidiary, aided and abetted crimes, including torture and extra-judicial executions.

South Africa

Corporate Exploitation

Daimler and Rheinmetall facing lawsuit for supporting apartheid crimes

Apartheid

ECCHR is supporting the lawsuit filed by South African victims of the apartheid regime against eight European and US corporations (among them Daimbler and Rheinmetall). The plaintiffs accuse the companies of either directly committing human rights violations in South Africa, or of facilitating and supporting state-sponsored human rights violations.

Syria

Corporate Exploitation
Grave Crimes

Lafarge in Syria – Accusations of complicity in grave human rights violations

Armed Conflict

Eleven former Syrian employees of French company Lafarge submitted a criminal complaint against Lafarge. By having business relations with the terrorist group ISIS in Syria, the company may have taken part in the financing of the group, being therefore complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Syria

Grave Crimes
Corporate Exploitation

Surveillance in Syria: European firms may be aiding and abetting crimes against humanity

Surveillance technology

The Syrian intelligence services have been collecting without cause information about political opponents, members of the opposition and human rights activists. Spying often goes hand in hand with torture. Software from Western corporations may have played a role in the surveillance. In order to address this, transnational investigations have to be initiated.

Turkey

Corporate Exploitation

German prosecutor launches investigation of German companies for allegedly selling spyware for Turkish authorities

Surveillance

The Munich-based companies FinFisher GmbH, FinFisher Labs GmbH and Elaman GmbH are accused of selling sorveillance software FinSpy software to Turkey without the German government's permission. When repressive states use surveillance technology, the result has all too often been such as imprisonment and torture. Following a criminal complaint from ECCHR and its partner organizations, the prosecutor's office in Munich has opened investigations into the case.

United Kingdom

Corporate Exploitation

Gamma/FinFisher: UK rebukes German-British software company

Surveillance

British-German surveillance technology provider Gamma infringed on its human rights obligations with products such as 'state trojan' FinFisher. This was confirmed by the UK's OECD National Contact Point. In 2013, ECCHR submitted a complaint against Gamma and German firm Trovicor.