Yazidi survivors take a stand against French company found complicit in crimes against humanity

Updated: Dec 6, 2018

Counsel for a group of Yazidi women who are victims of ISIS’ crimes in Iraq and Syria have today filed an application for their clients to become ‘civil parties’ (parties civiles) to a criminal case in France against the French multinational company Lafarge. Lafarge and several of its executives have been charged with complicity in crimes against humanity and financing a terrorist organisation. 

Lafarge allegedly made multi-million dollar payments to ISIS in order to continue operations at one of its cement plants in a part of northern Syria controlled by ISIS in 2013. This allegedly included payments by Lafarge for large amounts of oil, one of ISIS’ main revenue sources. French investigative judges indicted Lafarge in June 2018, and eight of its executives were charged in 2017 in connection with the same events.

Amal Clooney, Ben Emmerson QC and Rachel Lindon act as pro bono counsel to the victims. They will work to ensure that Yazidi survivors are fully involved in the legal process against Lafarge and its executives, that the crimes committed against them are appropriate characterised and recognised by the court, and that the victims are awarded appropriate reparation.

According to Amal Clooney, “It is an honour to represent Yazidi women in a case that will allow them, and other victims of ISIS, to have their voices heard in a court of law. Since August 2014, ISIS has targeted Yazidis in Iraq and Syria through forced displacement, executions, kidnappings, and the sexual enslavement of women and girls. This case is the first in which a multinational company has been charged with complicity in international crimes committed by ISIS. It provides an opportunity to establish that ISIS, and all those who assisted them, will be held to account for their crimes, and that victims will be awarded just compensation. And it sends an important message to corporations that are complicit in the commission of international crimes that they will face legal consequences for their actions”.

Ben Emmerson QC added: “It is vitally important that companies doing business in conflict zones are held accountable for their actions. Where they have been complicit in human rights violations, they should pay reparations to the victims. And it is especially important that the voices of the victims are heard in this process. The appalling suffering of the Yazidi victims of ISIS demands recognition and should command the unqualified support of the international community. The French criminal justice system provides an opportunity for the victims of these crimes to become civil parties, and we hope the judge will recognise the special interests of our clients, who represent a community that was systematically subjected by ISIS to grave violations of humanitarian law and outrages against their personal dignity.”

Rachel Lindon said: “In this investigation that was opened in France, it is important that individuals who have suffered from crimes committed by ISIS, in which Lafarge is alleged to be complicit, are parties to the proceedings. We hope the investigation, by a number of specialised judges, will confirm that the company knowingly facilitated ISIS’ crimes against humanity.”

Amal Clooney, Doughty Street Chambers Ben Emmerson QC, Matrix Chambers Rachel Lindon, Lindon & Rohan Chabot