PSC welcomes today’s hugely significant statement from the UK National Contact Point (UK NCP), which confirms that JCB’s business practices violate human rights. The statement came as a result of evidence submitted by Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR), showing that JCB machinery has been used in illegal activities – namely the demolition of Palestinian homes and properties, and for the construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank, both of which are war crimes according to international law.
The UK NCP, a UK government body, spent nearly two years examining the case file submitted by LPHR which argued that the use of JCB products in illegal activities in the West Bank is “material and prolific, resulting in serious human rights violations” (see LPHR press release) impacting the Palestinian population, including children left homeless or without schools because of Israeli military demolitions using JCB machinery.
For years, human rights experts, charities, and campaigning groups, including the PSC, have pushed JCB to own up to its contributions to the destruction and abuse of Palestinians’ human rights, and to immediately end sales to its sole Israeli distributor. JCB has refused to listen, or even respond, and that disregard will now cost it greatly through reputational damage from the UK NCP’s determination.
JCB is one of three British companies listed in the UN Human Rights Council’s database of businesses involved in Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise. The fact that JCB has been named by both the Human Rights Council and the UK NCP is a mark of shame on the company. But it also shows grave negligence on the part of the UK government, which has failed in its obligation to hold to account British companies involved in human rights abuse.
PSC congratulates Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights for their diligent work. Palestinian human rights NGOs on the ground in the West Bank have also played a critical role in documenting and calling out the corporate complicity in the violation of their rights, including JCB. Some of those same NGOs are currently under unprecedented attack by the Israeli government because of these monitoring and documenting activities, targeted in an attempt to silence them and halt their important work.
The UK NCP statement should usher in a wave of actions to hold JCB to account and to end its profiting from war crimes. As such, PSC calls for:
- The UK government to ban trade with illegal settlements, and stand up to protect Palestinian human rights defenders who are risking their own safety to document the crimes of UK companies like JCB.
- Organisations in the UK, including Local Authorities and charities like the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), to sever all partnerships and procurement deals with JCB until they fulfil their obligations as outlined under the recommendations of the UK NCP and OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.