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Issue: UK companies & illegal resource exploitation in DRC

Description In October 2002, a United Nations Panel of Experts accused 85 OECD-based companies of violating the Guidelines for their direct or indirect roles in the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The Panel alleged that “elite networks” of political and military elites and businesspersons fueled the conflict in order to retain their control over the country’s vast natural resources. Complaints were filed against several UK companies who were operating in the DRC at the time investigated by the Panel.
Developments/Outcome Alex Stewart (Assayers) Ltd and Tremalt : The UK NCP claimed the case was resolved by the UN Panel and could not be reopened. Due to the NCP’s inaction, RAID withdrew the complaint February 27 2007.

Ridgepoint: The UK NCP claimed the case was resolved by the UN Panel and could not be reopened. Due to the NCP’s inaction, RAID withdrew the complaint February 27 2007. At the end of 2007, the Congolese Government declared Billy Rautenbach, the director of Ridgepoint, persona non grata and expelled him from the country. The Congolese interministerial commission set up to review mining contracts also declared in Oct 2007 Rautenbach's title to the mining concession invalid.

Avient Air: Although the case was accepted as a specific instance, RAID was locked out of the process. In September 2004, the UK NCP issued a weak statement accepting Avient’s contention that it was working within a contractual arrangement with the officially recognized governments in the area. The NCP’s recommendations merely highlight the existence of a few provisions of the Guidelines, but did not declare breaches or offer specific actions a company is expected to take to remedy the breaches. Following a September 2006 exposé in the UK’s Sunday Times, RAID called on the UK NCP to reopen the case. RAID had gathered extensive documentation to show that Avient was engaged in mercenary operations in the DRC, including bombing missions. However, given the gravity of the allegations against Avient, the NCP encouraged RAID to contact the UK Attorney General to investigate Avient for complicity in war crimes.

DAS Air: DAS Air denied the allegations in the complaint and strongly objected to the allegations that it contributed to the ongoing conflict in the DRC and to human rights’ abuses. The company firmly denied that it had ever knowingly transported coltan sourced from the DRC, explaining it believed the coltan it flew out of Kigali originated in Kigali. RAID provided detailed flight logs and other evidence gathered by the Porter Commission – a Ugandan judicial commission set up to investigate illegal exploitation in the DRC – to support its case. At the meeting that took place in November 2006 with representatives of the NCP's Joint Working Group, Minister Ian McCartney pledged that all the UN Panel cases would be concluded within six months after which a statement would be made to parliament. But there subsequently long delays in bringing the case to a conclusion. RAID was, however, appreciative of the efforts that the NCP took to seek the advice of the International Civil Aviation Authority and the British Freight Forwarders Association. In October 2007, a year after the European Community had imposed a ban on its aircraft, DAS Air was forced into administration. The NCP continued to liaise with the administrators in its efforts to conclude the case. In July 2008, a strongly worded final statement was issued. For the first time in any specific instance, the NCP concluded that DAS Air breached the human rights provision by flying into a conflict zone in contravention of international civil aviation regulations. DAS Air was also found to have failed to undertake due diligence with regard to its supply chain; the company's contention that it did not know the source of the minerals it was transporting was rejected given its "intimate understanding of the situation and the conflict." The NCP did not make a determination in relation to events that occurred before the year 2000, but it took past behaviour into account in its final assessment of DAS Air’s activities. There is concern that this treatment of past conduct is inconsistent with the retrospective application of the 2000 Guidelines established in the Anglo American case.

Oryx National Resources: In July 2004, the UK NCP accepted the complaint; however, RAID was prohibited from taking part in the negotiation process for one year while the NCP engaged in extensive discussions with Oryx. Most of the complaint was rejected on the grounds that a UN Panel had resolved the issue. The NCP insisted RAID resubmit its complaint in April 2005. RAID was allowed to participate in the proceedings in April 2005, but under very restrictive and summary procedures. RAID was able to comment on the NCP’s draft statement, which was the only area in which the UK NCP followed the Guidelines’ complaint procedures. The majority of issues raised in the complaint were disallowed by the NCP on grounds that they had been “resolved” by the UN Panel. The final statement was highly unsatisfactory and did not incorporate any of RAID’s recommendations.

6 cases relating to 'UK companies & illegal resource exploitation in DRC':

Title Issue Date filed Status
RAID vs. Oryx UK companies & illegal resource exploitation in DRC 28 June 2004 Concluded
RAID vs. Ridgepoint UK companies & illegal resource exploitation in DRC 28 June 2004 Withdrawn
RAID vs. Tremalt UK companies & illegal resource exploitation in DRC 28 June 2004 Withdrawn
RAID vs. Alex Stewart (Assayers) Ltd UK companies & illegal resource exploitation in DRC 28 June 2004 Withdrawn
RAID vs. Avient UK companies & illegal resource exploitation in DRC 28 June 2004 Concluded
RAID vs. Das Air UK companies & illegal resource exploitation in DRC 28 June 2004 Concluded

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