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.
Despite countless attacks on civilian homes, markets, hospitals and schools – conducted by the Saudi/UAE-led military coalition – transnational companies based in Europe continued and continue to supply Saudi Arabia and the UAE with weapons, ammunition and logistical support. European government officials authorized the exports by granting licenses.
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.
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 Mexican police.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In 2012, ECCHR submitted a legal brief in the case relating to the unlawful detention and torture of workers of the company Minera Aguilar SA during the Argentine military dictatorship (1976-1983).
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.
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.
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.
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 extrajudicial executions.
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.