Press Release / May 21, 2013

Danzer dropped by FSC over “unacceptable activities “in Congo; victims still await justice

Global Witness welcomes today's decision by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to dissociate itself from the Danzer Group, in light of accusations of human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  

Global Witness has previously expressed serious concerns about the actions of Danzer's Congolese subsidiary SIFORCO. On April 25th, Global Witness and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) filed a criminal complaint against the Swiss-German timber manufacturer accusing it of aiding and abetting grave human rights violations against members of a forest community in the DRC.

“Given the serious accusations of grave human rights violations linked to a Danzer subsidiary, FSC’s relationship with the company had become completely untenable,” said Reiner Tegtmeyer, International Forest Expert at Global Witness. “We welcome the decision but recognise that it is provides little comfort for the community in DRC which is still awaiting justice. The company must be held responsible for any crimes committed; let’s see a proper investigation by the German justice system into this case.”

The complaint, submitted to the State Prosecutor’s office in Tübingen, Germany, asks the prosecutor to start an investigation into the responsibility of the Danzer Group for actions undertaken by staff of its subsidiaries in developing countries. It accuses a Danzer director responsible for its Africa operations of failing to prevent violence committed by the Congolese police and military against civilians in the village of Bongulu, of northern DRC on 2 May 2011. The violence against the community was prompted by their protests against the company's  prolonged failure to fulfil its contractual obligations such as building a school. According to witness testimony, security forces inflicted grave bodily harm to a number of men, raped women and girls, arrested 16 people and destroyed property. 

 Contact: Reiner Tegtmeyer, [email protected]; +44 20 7492 5871 or +44 7503504436