The British heavy machinery firm JCB’s sale of equipment used in the destruction of Palestinian villages in the Israeli-occupied West Bank is being examined by a UK government body to determine whether its due diligence process complies with human rights guidelines set by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
The case is likely to test the degree to which multinationals are responsible if their export goods are sold by local distributors in ways that infringe human rights.
JCB, which has donated millions of pounds to the Conservative party and at least £25,000 to Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign, can now enter into government-overseen mediation with the NGO that made the claim or it can outright contest the claim.
The claim was launched by Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights last December after JCB refused to communicate with the lobby group over claims that its tractors were being used to tear up Palestinian villages.
The little-known complaints procedure was set up in 2000 and is designed to give an avenue to press multinationals to abide by their corporate social responsibility undertakings as set out by the OECD.
The National Contact Point quango, a subsidiary of the Foreign Office that oversees the complaints, issued a statement on Monday. It said that after examining the Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights complaint and hearing JCB’s rebuttal, it deemed that JCB had a case to answer in relation to some claims and that the issue fell within its remit.
The chair of JCB is Anthony Bamford, a Conservative peer. The company gave Johnson £25,000 for his leadership campaign. Overall the