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UK Government body confirms that eyeWitness partners’ complaint against JCB is “material and substantiated”

November 12, 2020

Presence of JCB equipment in Palestine

The UK National Contact Point has announced that Lawyers for Palestinian Rights’ (LPHR) claims regarding J.C. Bamford Excavators Limited’s (JCB) links to human rights abuses are “material and substantiated”.

LPHR filed a complaint following the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises in December 2019. The complaint alleged that the Israeli State has been using JCB’s construction equipment for both the demolition of Palestinian property and the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Footage captured by Palestinian human rights organisation, Al Haq, using the eyeWitness to Atrocities App, was crucial for substantiating the complaint.

Strong evidence of demolition events in the West Bank and East Jerusalem

LPHR filed an evidence-based complaint to the UK National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises alleging that JCB equipment was being used by the Israeli State in the destruction of Palestinian property and construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. LPHR’s claim acknowledged that whilst JCB does not directly carry out human rights abuses, it contributes to such harms by selling to others who potentially do.

A key part of the complaint was a series of verified photos and videos provided by Palestinian human rights organisation, Al Haq. Taken using the eyeWitness App, Al Haq’s footage demonstrated the use of JCB equipment in four demolition and settlement-related construction incidents.

After reviewing all evidence provided, the UK National Contact Point has released an Initial Assessment confirming that JCB equipment is being used in the demolition of Palestinian communities. Furthermore, the UK National Contact Point has determined that there is sufficient grounds for JCB to enter mediation with LPHR and/or to be “further examined”.

The decision is a testament to the strength of evidence provided by LPHR. According to the OECD’s Annual Report, only 11 out of 34 (32%) cases around the world went to meditation in 2018, despite a record number of submissions.

Director of LPHR, Tareq Shrourou, said: “We welcome this Initial Assessment and the UK National Contact Point’s acknowledgement that there are serious human rights issues raised by our complaint under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises which warrant mediation or thorough investigation.”

Upholding corporate responsibility

The UK National Contact Point finds that whilst JCB does not carry out human rights abuses directly, it may be linked to such violations through its supply chains and business relationships. Consequently, the UK National Contact Point feels that a review of JCB's actions and policies, including the nature of its human rights due diligence, is warranted. As such, it will be offering to facilitate a mediation between LPHR and JCB to resolve the complaint.

Shrourou said: “We look forward to constructively engaging with JCB and expect it will do the right thing by complying with its human rights responsibilities. LPHR's objective of ending JCB's unacceptable involvement in human rights violations against Palestinians should be a shared one.”

LPHR’s complaint asks that JCB stop selling its products to buyers that could be identified as being part of the supply chain that results in demolition of Palestinian property or settlement-related construction, and that the corporation develop and publish a human rights policy and due diligence methodology on its website. It also asks that JCB agree to work with LPHR and other stakeholders to establish a grievance mechanism for those who have suffered damages as a result of the demolition and displacement activities.