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2020 | Al Haq/SOMO - Violations Set in Stone - HeidelbergCement in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

This report outlines that the German transnational enterprise HeidelbergCement (HC), through its subsidiary Hanson Israel, commits and contributes to a wide array of breaches of international law by exploiting of a stone quarry in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). It predominantly concerns breaches of Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law (IHL) which include -but are not limited to- the Palestinian right to self-determination, to permanent sovereignty over natural resources, the violation of land rights, pillage, rights to livelihood and environmental rights. HC, however, has legitimised its business activities in the quarry and denies liability for the alleged violations.

Accountability and access to an effective remedy

The report provides an overview of numerous activities and mechanisms used by civil society to end HC’s infringements of rights. For various reasons, including Israeli court rulings, a lack of binding provisions for accountability under international law and a lack of political will by both Israel (the Occupying Power) and Germany to take measures against HC, no accountability or remedy for the people affected by HC’s activities, has been achieved. Yet, Germany, in its capacity as HC’s home state, is under an international duty to protect against business-related human rights abuses. Consequently, it must ensure access to effective remedy for those affected within its territory and/or jurisdiction, whether through judicial or non-judicial means. The report points to several legal avenues available under German law to establish HC’s liability, including prosecuting HC corporate agents in German domestic courts under universal jurisdiction. Another option would be the International Criminal Court that may investigate and prosecute HC representatives for their involvement in the alleged violations of international law. The non-legal mechanism embedded in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, is referred to as well. Set up to hear complaints by those affected by corporate activity, the latter may provide a remedy for the affected persons and communities and prevent HC from continuing to abuse the individual and community rights of those affected.

The reports concludes with a set of recommendations to various stakeholders, including the European Union and the International Criminal Court. Germany is recommended to investigate and prosecute those responsible for and contributing to the commission of grave breaches in the OPT, including corporate enterprises, and to cooperate with relevant accountability mechanisms. HC is called upon to make reparations to those Palestinians affected by its activities.