7 May 2013 / Electronic Intifada / Disappointing French ruling on Veolia still paves way for suing occupation profiteers
In March, the Versailles Court of Appeals dismissed an appeal in a long-standing dispute between the Association France-Palestine Solidarite (france-palestine.org) and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) against the French corporations Alstom Transport, Alstom and Veolia Transport.
The ruling was disappointing in many ways, primarily for refusing to decide the key legal issue as to the companies’ involvement in illegal activities in the occupied West Bank. It is also highly problematic in its interpretation of international legal obligations.
However, the court did confirm some important points, most importantly that the PLO can legitimately bring legal actions against companies that violate international humanitarian law, setting a crucial precedent for future actions.
The court also confirmed that corporations are valid targets for civil litigation and that the Geneva Conventions and Hague Conventions governing the conduct of war are enforceable in a third-party country’s national court. These points should not be missed by lawyers and the many activists who participate in the global campaign to hold Veolia and Alstom accountable for their roles in a light rail project in occupied East Jerusalem, and other activities that help to embed illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land.
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