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ADHRB vs. SAE Alsetex, Etienne Lacroix Group

Case overview

Date filed 19 August 2015
Current status Agreement
Issue HR violations in Bahrain enabled by tear gas supplier Condor
Summary of the case On 19 August 2015, the NGO Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) filed a complaint against SAE Alsetex, a producer of riot-control weapons and subsidiary of the French multinational enterprise Etienne Lacroix Group. ADHRB alleged that SAE Alsetex had violated French regulations and the OECD Guidelines by failing to prevent its tear gas from being used in Bahrain to oppress peaceful protesters.

In 2011, France banned the export to Bahrain of all riot control products, after determining that such products were being misused to repress peaceful protesters. ADHRB’s complaint against SAE Alsetex alleged that SAE Alsetex’s tear gas cannisters, bearing markings of being produced after the ban went into effect, were found to have been used by Bahraini security officers against peaceful protesters between 2011 and 2013, and again in 2015. ADHRB requested mediation from the French NCP to help secure SAE Alsetex’s commitment to: stop exporting its products to Bahrain; draft and publish a human rights policy; establish and publish effective human rights due diligence procedures; and remedy any adverse impacts which the company had caused or contributed to.
Developments/Outcome The French NCP conducted an initial assessment and accepted the case for consideration in September 2015. The French NCP interviewed representatives from both parties, then offered mediation services, which SAE Alsetex refused. The NCP then closed the case in April 2016 and adopted a draft statement by consensus, with the exception of one trade union organisation. The draft statement was then agreed upon by both parties.

The final statement observed that:

--SAE Alsetex was in full compliance with French regulations. The statement concluded that, in this case, the French government had carried out the due diligence recommended by the OECD and that, by complying with the governments decisions, which the NCP has no mandate to evaluate, the enterprise was, ipso facto, in compliance with the requirements of responsible business conduct vis-à-vis human rights.

--States have the duty to protect human rights and that it is not in the mandate of the NPC to decide on actions carried out by government authorities. By adhering to the 2011 embargo, SAE Alsetex did not contribute to human rights violations in Bahrain.

--While SAE Alsetex does take some risk-based due diligence measures, those measures should be formalised.

--SAE Alsetex does not yet have, but is in the process of drafting, a policy for responsible business conduct addressing human rights risks.

The French NCP encouraged SAE Alsetex to take into account both the OECD Guidelines and ADHRB’s comments in its responsible business conduct (RBC) policy, to formalize its in-house due diligence procedures, and to make the policy public. The NCP encouraged SAE Alsetex to consider requesting a non-re-export certificate. The NCP also encouraged SAE Alsetex to assess the extent to which customers have understood the recommended use parameters for SAE Alsetex’s products. The NCP suggested that if a customer (such as the Bahraini security forces) repeatedly fails to fulfill its commitments, then SAE Alsetex should suspend or terminate its business relationship with that customer.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
Case keywords Human rights

NCP Information

NCP name National Contact Point France
NCP address Rue de Bercy 139 75572 Paris, Cedex 12, France
NCP website www.minefi.gouv.fr/directions_ser
Other NCPs involved

Complainant

NGO

Company Information

Company responsible Alsetex
Company address
Company website
Company in violation Alsetex
Country of operations Bahrain
Other companies involved

Timeline of developments

Date Actor Action Description Document
25 July 2016 ADHRB statement ADHRB issues a reaction to the agreement made. download pdf (776Kb)  
4 July 2016 National Contact Point France statement The French NCP issued its final statement, based on consensus of the parties, encouraging Alsetex to expand and finalise its responsible business conduct policy. download pdf (381Kb)  
16 November 2015 National Contact Point France initial assessment The French NCP issues its specific instance offering its good offices to ADHRB and the Etienne Lacroix Group. download pdf (306Kb)  
24 September 2015 National Contact Point France accept During a meeting, the NCP agreed to accept the complaint.  
19 August 2015 ADHRB file ADHRB filed a complaint with the French NCP regarding the activities of SAE Alsetex.  

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