Nestlé lawsuit (re Colombia)

Luciano Romero, Credit - Rebelion.orgPara la versión en español de este perfil de las demandas judiciales contra Nestlé por actividades en Colombia, haga clic acá.

Pour une version française de ce profil, cliquez ici.

On 5 March 2012, European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and Colombian trade union Sinaltrainal filed a criminal complaint against Nestlé and its senior management with the public prosecutor in Zug, Switzerland.  The complaint alleged that Nestlé was complicit in the murder of trade unionist Luciano Romero, a former employee of Nestlé’s Colombian subsidiary, Cicolac, for failing to take precautionary measures to prevent the murder.  Romero was murdered in Colombia by paramilitaries in 2005.  The complaint claimed that Romero began receiving death threats after Cicolac falsely branded him a guerilla fighter.  Nestlé denied these  allegations.

The public prosecutor assessed the complaint to determine whether the allegations were actionable under Swiss criminal law.  In May 2013 the prosecutor's office dismissed the complaint because it was filed after the expiration of the statute of limitations.  The plaintiffs have appealed the dismissal.  On 21st July 2014, Switzerland's highest court rejected the appeal and confirmed that the statute of limitations had been exceeded in the case.

In December 2014, ECCHR filed a complaint against Switzerland, on behalf of Luciano Romero's widow, before the European Court of Human Rights. In May 2015, the Court dismissed this complaint, exhausting all legal avenues in Europe. However, the Romero case is also part of a criminal complaint before the International Criminal Court on the systematic persecution of trade unionists in Colombia. This procedure is still on-going.

- "Swiss court clears Nestlé in Colombia widow case", 2 Aug 2014
- "Swiss prosecutors close Colombian widow's case against Nestle", AFP, 2 May 2013
- “Complaint against Nestlé over Colombian death”, Swissinfo.ch, 6 Mar 2012

Nestlé:
Letter to Colombian Trade Union, 16 Mar 2012
- [DOC] Nestlé response re suit alleging its complicity in murder of Colombian trade unionist, 7 Mar 2012

European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights:
Swiss Judiciary declines access to justice, 1 Aug 2014
- Nestlé Test Case: Charges filed on murder of Colombian Trade Unionist, 6 Mar 2012
- [ES] Caso Nestlé: Querella por Homicidio de un sindicalista colombiano, 6 marzo 2012

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Article
20 May 2015

European Court of Human Rights dismisses Colombian trade unionist widow’s complaint against Switzerland over Nestlé’s alleged responsibility in murder case

Author: European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights

"European Court of Human Rights blocks Nestlé/Romero case" 

No justification and no chance of appeal: The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has dismissed a complaint against Switzerland from the widow of murdered Colombian trade unionist and Nestlé worker Luciano Romero. There is no possibility of lodging an appeal against this decision, for which the Court did not give reasons - claimants in the Nestlé/Romero case have now exhausted all legal avenues in Europe. ECCHR [European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights] submitted the complaint on behalf of Romero’s widow on 18 December 2014 calling on the ECtHR to examine whether the Swiss judiciary adequately investigated Nestlé’s responsibility for Romero’s murder. The Court could have taken this opportunity to clarify how to ensure that victims of human rights violations committed by corporations have access to justice, as provided for in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The ECCHR is currently holding talks with Colombian partners on potential routes for further action...

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Report
20 March 2015

New guide for funders: "Advancing human rights accountability for economic actors"

Author: Daria Caliguire, SAGE Fund - Strengthening Accountability in the Global Economy

"Advancing Human Rights Accountability for Economic Actors: An introductory field guide for funders", Jan 2015

Advancing Human Rights Accountability for Economic Actors - credit:  SAGE F und – Strengthening Accountability in the Global Economy

[This guide provides]...an overview of a select set of strategies that seek to hold economic actors (primarily non-state actors) accountable to human rights obligations. We hope that this mapping:

  • Introduces an important body of work, issues and approaches to donors and others with an interest in learning more
  • Highlights some key opportunities for support and impact
  • Begins a conversation in the field among donors and activists, spurring additional strategy development, field building and investment

...This guide is a reference for funders seeking a broad overview of efforts to hold economic actors – corporations, development finance institutions, and others – accountable to human rights obligations within the larger field of human rights and the global economy. It provides an introduction to some of the field’s complex range of institutions, actors, and approaches… [It] examines more traditional human rights strategies that focus on enforcement as a means of advancing accountability, rather than engagement...

Contents [include]...

State of the Field: Focus on Enforcement
   1. Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives: Movement toward Binding Agreements
      Binding Agreements and Worker-Driven Social Responsibility

   2. International Standard-Setting: Renewed Momentum for Binding International Obligations
      United Nations Guiding Principles; International Treaty on Business and Human Rights

   3. Development Finance Safeguards: New Push for Strengthened Standards

   4. Accountability Mechanisms: Need for Compliance and Remedy
      OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises; IFI Complaints Mechanisms; ECA Complaint Mechanisms

   5. Regulatory Regimes: Gaining Traction with Disclosure and Due Diligence...

   6. Legal Strategies: Constructing Accountability and Access to Remedy
      Corporate Liability; Access to Remedy; Extra-Territorial Obligations 

Emerging Issues: Rise of Private Finance; Fiscal Policy and Financial Regulation; Increasing Influence of BRICS; Trade and Investment Agreements; Climate Finance

A Call for Donor Action: Regulation; Legal Strategies; Field Building

[refers to Vale, Coca-Cola, Dinant, Posco, Pacific Rim; lawsuits against Lahmeyer, Nestlé, Argor-Heraeus, Anvil Mining (now part of China Minmetals), HudBay Minerals]

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Author: Verdad Abierta (Colombia)

"Por muerte de sindicalista colombiano, demandan a Suiza ante tribunal europeo de DDHH", 22 de diciembre

El proceso lo impulsa una organización no gubernamental alemana que pretende reabrir el caso de Luciano Romero, asesinado en 2005 en el Cesar por paramilitares y quien trabajó para Cicolac Ltda., una filial de la multinacional Nestlé, y fue miembro de Sinaltrainal...la presentación de [la] demanda contra Suiza ante el Tribunal Europeo de Derechos Humanos [es] para que determine si la justicia de ese país fue negligente o no en aclarar el papel de esa empresa en el homicidio del líder gremial. La demanda fue presentada por abogados del European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR, por sus siglas en inglés)...El proceso judicial contra Nestlé S.A. comenzó el 5 de marzo de 2012, cuando el ECCHR, en conjunto con Sintrainal, presentó una querella ante la Fiscalía de Zug, en Suiza...No obstante esos argumentos, el Supremo Tribunal Federal de Suiza falló a favor de Nestlé S.A. en julio pasado...Tras...explorar alternativas...la ECCHR y Sinaltrainal tomaron la decisión de presentar una demanda ante el Tribunal Europeo de Derechos Humanos contra Suiza...Meike Schmidt...portavoz oficial [de Nestlé], precisó...["] Respetamos el razonamiento de la Corte respecto de su decisión de la apelación, lo que confirma las resoluciones anteriores...Nestlé condena todas las formas de violencia" y rechazó de manera enfática..."las acusaciones hechas por los demandantes...".

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Author: European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR)

La Suisse a refusé d’éclairer le rôle de Nestlé dans l’assassinat de son travailleur et syndicaliste colombien Luciano Romero. Le European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) a dès lors déposé une requête contre la Suisse au nom de la veuve de Romero auprès de la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme (CEDH) à Strasbourg. Le ECCHR fonde son argumentation juridique sur le droit à la vie…et le droit à une requête effective…de la Convention européenne des droits de l’homme. Il revient à présent à la CEDH de déterminer si la justice suisse a rempli son obligation d’enquêter de manière effective sur la responsabilité de Nestlé en Suisse dans la mort de Romero…Selon les statistiques colombiennes, près de 3000 syndicalistes ont été assassinés depuis le milieu des années 80; 13 d’entre eux travaillaient pour Nestlé…La justice suisse a rejeté tous les recours contre Nestlé dans l’affaire Romero. Le Tribunal fédéral s’est dernièrement à nouveau reposé sur la prescription des infractions…

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Item
18 December 2014

Murder of Nestlé worker Romero in Colombia: Complaint against Switzerland submitted to European Court of Human Rights

Author: European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR)

The Swiss judiciary has refused to investigate the role played by Nestlé in the murder of Colombian trade unionist and Nestlé worker Luciano Romero. The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) has responded by submitting a complaint against Switzerland on behalf of Romero’s widow to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)...The ECCHR is basing its case on the right to life…and the right to an effective remedy…The ECtHR must now determine whether the Swiss judiciary has adequately examined Nestlé’s liability for Romero’s murder. According to figures from Colombian sources, almost 3,000 trade unionists have been murdered in Colombia over the past 30 years. 13 of these worked for Nestlé…The Swiss judiciary dismissed all claims against Nestlé in the Romero case. In July 2014 the Swiss Federal Supreme Court held that the crimes in question were now statute-barred…

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Author: ATS (Agence télégraphique suisse)

Une plainte a été déposée contre la Suisse auprès de la Cour européenne des droits de l'homme (CEDH) au nom de la veuve d'un syndicaliste et travailleur de Nestlé en Colombie. Celle-ci accuse la multinationale d'être coresponsable par négligence du meurtre de son époux...La justice vaudoise avait décidé de ne pas ouvrir d'enquête sur la responsabilité de Nestlé, le délai de prescription de l'action pénale étant dépassé. Une décision confirmée par le TF [tribunal fédéral], qui a mis fin à la procédure en Suisse…L'ECCHR fonde son argumentation juridique pour déposer plainte auprès de la CEDH sur le droit à la vie…et le droit à une requête effective…"Prescription, déni de compétence, difficultés d'enquête - ce sont toujours les mêmes arguments" qui sont invoqués pour ne rien entreprendre, s'insurge le Centre européen. "Pratiquement aucune entreprise européenne n'est jugée dans l'Etat où elle a son siège pour des violations qu'elle commet à l'étranger", rappelle Wolfgang Kaleck, secrétaire général de l'ECCHR…

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Article
5 December 2014

Access to justice for victims of human rights abuses needs to be strengthened

Author: Sif Thorgeirsson, Manager, Corporate Legal Accountability Project, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

‘Closing the courtroom door: where can victims of human rights abuse by business find justice?’, 1 Dec 2014

…[M]any victims of business-related human rights abuse have no access to judicial remedy in their home country…The majority of cases of abuse we see at Business & Human Rights Resource Centre occur in weak governance zones, which often do not have an independent judiciary, and sometimes lack fully functioning courts…Of the 108 legal cases the Centre has profiled,…[54%] are related to extraterritorial claims…[but t]he effect [of Kiobel] has been a near-freeze on victims seeking justice through this…avenue. At the time of…Kiobel…, there were at least 19 corporate Alien Tort cases pending in US courts.  Since then, only one new…case has been filed…While the scope for remedy from US and English courts is narrowing…there have been three cases filed in Canadian courts addressing extraterritorial business-related human rights abuse...[and]…cases…have been filed in France, Switzerland and Germany…Concerted action is needed by governments and others to reverse the trend toward closing…avenues to justice…[Also refers to Occidental Petroleum, Cisco Systems, Drummond, Chiquita, Rio Tinto,  Daimler, ExxonMobil, Nestle, CACI, L-3 Titan, Nevsun, Hudbay Minerals and Tahoe Resources]

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Author: ats (Agence télégraphique suisse)

« Plainte d'un syndicat colombien contre Nestlé rejetée », 1er août 2014

Le Tribunal fédéral (TF) a rejeté le recours de la veuve d'un syndicaliste et travailleur de Nestlé en Colombie. Elle accusait la multinationale d'être coresponsable par négligence du meurtre de son époux. Le TF confirme ainsi la non-entrée matière déjà prononcée par le Ministère public vaudois et le Tribunal cantonal vaudois…Le TF confirme que le délai de prescription de l'action pénale contre Nestlé était dépassé…Nestlé a toujours réfuté catégoriquement les accusations portées contre elle.

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Author: ECCHR (Centro Europeo para los Derechos Constitucionales y Humanos)

El Tribunal Federal suizo ha rechazado el recurso de la viuda del sindicalista colombiano de Sinaltrainal y trabajador de Nestlé, Luciano Romero, en una decisión del 21 de julio del 2014...Ella había recurrido contra la decisión de archivar la investigación acerca de la responsabilidad de Nestlé por el asesinato...El Tribunal...confirmó...que las infracciones eran prescritas. Divergió de la interpretación...[que] considera la responsabilidad penal de las empresas como un delito continuado...El Tribunal...cerró el proceso penal por razones formales. En consecuencia, la cuestión central de la responsabilidad penal de la empresa Nestlé...queda sin resolver....Con la decisión limitante del Tribunal Federal existe ahora la necesidad de reformar la prescripción en esos casos. Si no, en la práctica, las empresas...se benefician de investigaciones largas...En una zona de conflicto como Colombia, Nestlé tiene que garantizar la seguridad de sus trabajadores...

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Article
2 August 2014

Swiss court clears Nestlé in Colombia widow case

Author: AFP

Switzerland's highest court…rejected an appeal by the widow of a Colombian trade unionist who had accused...Nestlé of indirect responsibility for her husband's death...[T]he court had agreed with the previous ruling that the statute of limitations had been exceeded in the case...Nestlé had been accused of failing to take the necessary measures to protect Romero, a former employee of one of their subsidiaries, Cicolac. He had worked for the company for many years when he was accused of collaborating with guerilla fighters, and received a number of death threats before being killed…[P]aramilitaries were jailed for the assassination, but one former commander testified that the group had been financed by several companies, including Cicolac. Nestlé has always denied the allegations...

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