JCB, the British tractor firm, has been found by a UK government watchdog to have failed to carry out due diligence human rights checks over the potential use of its equipment to demolish homes in the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT).
The watchdog ruled: “It is unfortunate that JCB, which is a leading British manufacturer of world-class products, did not take any steps to conduct human rights due diligence of any kind despite being aware of alleged adverse human rights impacts and that its products are potentially contributing to those impacts.”
But the watchdog dismissed claims that JCB failed to use its leverage to persuade its exclusive Israeli distributor, Comasco, not to allow its equipment to be used to bulldoze homes. It said there was no conclusive evidence that the JCB equipment used in the bulldozing had been supplied by the distributor, or how JCB could influence the distributor.
The findings were published by the UK National Contact Point (UK NCP), which is charged with assessing whether firms are meeting OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises on human rights. The UK NCP is staffed by officials from the Department for International Trade, and is independent of the OECD.
The case marks an interesting test of the human rights duties of UK firms. It was brought by Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights in December 2019 so has taken nearly two years to reach a judgment point. The lawyers claim they have a record of JCB products being involved in “at least 60 out of the 266 demolitions” in one year. Read more..