French Court of Cassation Rules on the Charges Against Cement Giant Lafarges for Crimes Against Humanity in Syria

French Court of Cassation Rules on the Charges Against Cement Giant Lafarges for Crimes Against Humanity in Syria
Photo: The Guardian

Mariatereza Kokaj

Europe & Human Rights Researcher

Global Human Rights Defence

On 7 September 2021, the Court of Cassation overturned the Paris Appeals Court decision saying that the latter wrongly cancelled Lafarge’s indictment for complicity in crimes against humanity. Lafarge was accused of paying almost 13 million euros to armed groups in Syria, amongst that group being ISIS. The giant cement company was accused of keeping its factory operating at the beginning of the civil war in 2011. The European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and France’s Sherpa claimed that Lafarge bought raw materials and oil from armed fighters and managed to offer good payments for the passage of workers and goods through the checkpoints. The Lafarge company has accepted these claims, in particular that the Syrian subsidiary of Lafarge has paid people to talk to the armed groups members and allow the passage of staff and goods inside the warzone in order to keep the factory running. However, Lafarge has strictly denied that the money provided to the middlemen who allowed for such passage, might have ended up in the hands of armed groups. Court of Cassation ruled that one can be complicit to a crime against humanity even if it does not intend to associate itself with the crimes committed. According to the judges, several acts of complicity would end up unpunished if courts handled interpretation with levity. By operating in conflict regions, transnational corporations like Lafarge can incite armed conflicts and contribute to human rights violations, such as the ones mentioned in this article. Eventually, the court referred the case back to magistrates to reconsider the charge of crimes against humanity and the charge of “endangering the lives of others”.


Adamolekun, R. (2021, September 7). Lafarge loses battle to upturn verdict in ‘crimes against humanity’ case in Syria. Premium Times.

Alderman, L. (2019, November 7). Terrorism Financing Charge Upheld Against French Company Lafarge. The New York Times.

Chulov, M. (2021, September 10). Syria cement plant at centre of terror finance investigation ‘used by western spies.’ The Guardian. 

France’s Lafarge loses ruling in Syria crimes against humanity case. (2021, September 7). Business & Human Rights Resource Centre. 

Lafarge in Syria: Complicity in human rights violations? (2021, October 3). ECCHR.