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In the interests of accuracy, the summaries of cases referred to under each Red Flag are based wherever possible on the available court documents or other public legal sources.

The contents and documents of this web site are intended for learning purposes only and do not constitute legal advice or opinion. www.redflags.info is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

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The cases referred to in the Red Flags are examples of civil claims and criminal charges drawn from the case law involving companies all over the world (see links to lists of cases below). The principal criteria for selection as an example of a Red Flag risk has been whether the substantive allegations are illustrative of fact patterns which current case law in a number of jurisdictions indicates may give rise to some form of legal action. It is those fact patterns which companies should seek to avoid.

In this sense, a risk of liability is defined here as the potential for litigation. This is not a legal definition, but an operational one intended for use by companies in their risk management.

The Red Flags assume the common principle that everyone is innocent until found otherwise in a court of law. With that in mind, all cases in the Red Flags pamphlet and web site are referred to as examples of liability risk and do not imply any position as to the charges or complaints filed.

The Red Flags assume that the law is evolving. Cases referred to by the Red Flags guide have concluded as convictions, acquittals, and out of court settlements. Several are still ongoing or have yet to move to trial. In practice, these cases are typically very complex substantively and procedurally and include numerous claims and allegations, not all of which may be substantiated. Also, sources of law are complex and will vary across jurisdictions, further complicating the task of drawing lessons from comparisons between jurisdictions.

Where complaints or charges have changed over time, the Red Flags has endeavoured to update the case summary. The following cases are referred to in the Red Flags web site, listed below in chronological order of decision or filing:

The Netherlands v van Kouwenhoven, 2008

U.S. v Chiquita, 2007

U.S. v Baker Hughes, 2007

United States of America v. Riggs Bank, 2005

The Netherlands v Frans van Anraat, 2005

John Doe I et al v. Unocal Corp, 1996-2005

Belgium v Ossaily and Nassour, 2005

Prosecutor v. Félicien Kabuga, 2004

United State of America v James H. Giffen, 2003 - (case continues)

France v. Elf Aquitaine, 2003

Dam Kotopanjang (Dam Kotapanjang) Litigation, 2002 - (case continues)

John Doe I, et. al. v. Exxon Mobil Corp., et. al, 2001 - (case continues)

Bowoto, et. al. v. Chevron, et. al, 1999 - (case continues)

U.S. v. Krauch, et. al, (The I.G. Farben Case), 1952

U.S. v. Alfried Krupp, 1949

U.S. v. Friedrich Flick, 1947

The following web sites include lists of additional cases:

The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre is the most comprehensive online tool for business and human rights. The Centre's web site includes updates on cases presently being litigated under the U.S. Alien Tort Claims Act and links to company responses.

The Castan Centre for Human Rights, at Monash University has an extensive list of transnational litigation against companies

The Business and International Crimes web site summarises a project that surveyed the laws in 16 different jurisdictions to find out how international crimes create liabilities for business entities. The website also has summaries of the applicable law, a bibliography, and an Executive Summary by Professor Anita Ramasastry and Robert Thompson (Fafo, 2006).

Some of the advocacy oranisations involved in litigation list documentation from the cases they are involved in, for example;

Center for Constitutional Rights


International Labour Rights Fund
Minera Aguilar Faces Allegations of Complicity
The mining company, which is currently owned by Glencore International AG, may come under scrutiny before an Argentinian court for collaborating in the unlawful detention and torture of 24 employees in 1976. The company allegedly provided a list of names, logistical information and vehicles to security forces of the Argentinian dictatorship which sought to silence oppositional voices of unionised workers.
Trafigura Executive Settles Out of Court
Oil trading group Trafigura has agreed to pay a €67,000 fine in return for the withdrawal of criminal charges against its co-founder and director, Claude Dauphin. He faced trial in the Netherlands for the alleged illegal export of hazardous waste to the Ivory Coast in 2006. In 2007, Trafigura paid €152 million in compensation to 30,000 claimants who had been affected by the toxic waste, but denied liability.
HudBay Former Head of Security Arrested
Guatemalan authorities have made the arrest amid allegations that company security personnel were involved in the killing of an indigenous anti-mine protester in 2009. Hudbay Minerals Inc. is currently facing three human rights-related lawsuits in Canada, alleging the involvement of private security forces under the company’s employ in the murder and rape of activists in Guatemala.
Qosmos Accused of Aiding Syria’s Regime
French prosecutors have opened a preliminary investigation into the alleged involvement of technology firm Qosmos in crimes committed by the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad. The probe follows human rights groups’ claims that Qosmos may have been supplying the Syrian government with surveillance equipment used against opposition forces.
The Lundin Group Under Investigation
The International Prosecution Chamber in Stockholm is investigating claims of company involvement in human rights abuses in Sudan between 1997 and 2003. The allegations posit that Sudanese troops forcefully displaced civilian population from Lundin’s areas of oil exploration.
General Motors Settles with Victims of Apartheid
The company was alleged to have produced parts of vehicles which were used by South Africa’s apartheid regime to raid homes and assassinate political activists. The harm suffered and claimed for related to human rights violations including murder, prolonged detention without trial, torture and rape. GM negotiated a ‘without prejudice’ settlement with the 25 claimants, agreeing to pay $1.5 million.
Criminal Complaint Filed Against Nestlé
The company and its senior management are accused of negligently failing to prevent the murder of a Colombian trade unionist in 2005. Luciano Romero was killed by paramilitaries after Nestlé’s local subsidiary, Cicolac, labelled him a guerrilla fighter. The complaint could set a legal precedent, as it is the first time that a Swiss company is facing prosecution in Switzerland for an alleged crime committed abroad.
Blackwater settles Iraqi killings case
Family members of Iraqi civilians killed by Blackwater security contractors in Baghdad in 2007 have reached a confidential settlement with the company’s successor, Academi. The lawsuit alleged responsibility for wrongful deaths as a result of Blackwater employees unjustifiably opening fire into a crowd and killing 17 civilians, including children.
War Crimes Lawsuit against Rio Tinto to Proceed
A federal court in the US has revived an 11-year-old case seeking to hold Rio Tinto responsible for human rights violations linked to a Papua New Guinea copper and gold mine the company once operated. About 10,000 current and former residents of the South Pacific Island Bougainville contend that when workers began to sabotage the mine in 1988, Rio Tinto induced the government into exacting retribution which resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians.
Peruvian Torture Claimants Compensated by Monterrico Metals PLC
The company denies liability but has agreed to a settlement in connection with legal proceedings before a UK high court. The 33 claimants allege the company’s complicity in torture and various forms of mistreatment by Peruvian police following protests at the Monterrico Rio Blanco copper mine in 2005.
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