France: Sherpa and the ECCHR (European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights), as well as 11 complainants who are former Syrian employees of Lafarge, are taking legal action against Lafarge and its subsidiary Lafarge Cement Syria (LCS) for its actions in Syria. The non-government organisations have accused the cement producer of conducting business with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a terrorist group, via its Jalabiya cement plant.
“The Lafarge case highlights once again how multinationals doing business in conflict zones can directly fuel armed conflicts and contribute to grave human rights violations committed therein. Companies like Lafarge must be held accountable,” said Miriam Saage-Maaß, Vice Legal Director at ECCHR.
Sherpa and the ECCHR have accused LCS of entering into arrangements with ISIS in order to maintain production, by paying for passes issued by the jihadist organisation and buying raw materials necessary for cement production such as oil and pozzolana in areas under ISIS’s control. They have also accused Lafarge of reckless endangerment given that the plant continued to operate in the conflict zone. LCS repatriated its expatriate staff in 2012 but it kept its Syrian employees working at the site. Subsequently, when the plant was attacked, Sherpa and the ECCHR say that the local employees were forced to escape on their own.