To counter injustice with legal interventions – this is the aim and daily work of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights.
ECCHR is an independent, non-profit legal and educational organization dedicated to enforcing civil and human rights worldwide. It was founded in 2007 by Wolfgang Kaleck and other international human rights lawyers to protect and enforce the rights guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as other human rights declarations and national constitutions, through legal means.
Together with those affected and partners worldwide, ECCHR uses legal means to end impunity for those responsible for torture, war crimes, sexual and gender-based violence, corporate exploitation and fortressed borders.
Paris/Berlin – Today, the Supreme Court of France (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 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 court’s 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.
Eleven Syrian former employees of the French company Lafarge submitted a criminal complaint against Lafarge in 2016. By maintaining business relations with the terrorist group ISIS in Syria, the company may have contributed to the financing of the group, thereby making them complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity.
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