On 28 July 2018 a specific instance was filed by ASF and I Watch against Perenco to the French and Tunisian NCPs. The complaint concerns activities of Perenco in Kebili, Tunisia related to its extractive activities. The complainants allege that the company has failed to provide transparency on its extractive activities carried out around the oil wells located in the delegations of El Faouar and Douz, in the Kebili region. This in turn creates anxiety among local populations, who are worried for their health and the environment. The complainants are seeking mediation from the NCPs to address the lack of information on the nature of activities carried out on these sites, assess the risks they may pose to human rights and the environment, and the measures taken by the company to prevent and mitigate these risks.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
- Chapter II
- Chapter II Paragraph A10
- Chapter III
- Chapter III Paragraph 3
- Chapter IV
- Chapter IV Paragraph 5
- Chapter V
- Chapter V Paragraph 5
- Chapter VI
- Chapter VI Paragraph 1
- Chapter VI Paragraph 2
- Chapter X
On 2 October 2018, the French NCP completed an initial assessment accepting the complaint. Due to Perenco’s initial rejection of the NCP’s jurisdiction, the French NCP only published the outcome of its initial assessment on 4 December 2019, after the company changed its position.
On 18 February 2021, the French NCP issued an intermediary statement on the complaint that prompted the complainants to withdraw from the complaint.
On 25 February 2021, the complainants withdrew from the complaint process. After more than two and a half years of procedure, the NCP had arranged only a single meeting between the plaintiffs and the company on 24 September 2020. The complainants noted in the press release announcing their withdrawal that after that meeting, the company wished to interrupt the dialogue on grounds that the complaints had not signed the confidentiality agreement proposed by the NCP, even though no relevant documents had been offered to them for consultation.
Beyond concerns over the company’s behaviour, the complainants were particularly concerned by the NCP’s approach to the complaint. Complainants assert in their press release that “throughout the procedure, the NCP has favoured integrating and then maintaining the company in the good offices procedure, at the cost of the principles essential to the effectiveness of such a recourse: the predictability, impartiality and fairness of the procedure. This is evidenced by the recent publication of a progress report, five months after the meeting of 24 September, and incorporating elements suggested by the company. This experience echoes the criticisms consistently made by a coalition of French NGOs which, in 2018, sounded the alarm about the shortcomings of this mechanism. The increase in the number of referrals, recently highlighted by the French government, does not guarantee the effectiveness of the mechanism, and its ability to ensure access to justice for victims of abuse committed by French multinational companies abroad.”
The complainants are calling for an “in-depth reform of the French NCP” and warn of the need for “vigilance in the face of attempts to set up this NCP as a model, particularly for the establishment of other NCPs such as in Tunisia.”
On 26 January 2022, the French NCP published its final statement. The NCP found that Perenco did not comply with several recommendations of the OECD Guidelines regarding its activities in Kébili. The NCP noted that Perenco had developed its corporate policy as a result of the NCP’s good offices, but encouraged Perenco to continue to modernize this policy “in order to put in place a more advanced strategy and due diligence tools, with dedicated Group-level governance”. Among other recommendations, the NCP also encouraged the company to support the engagement of its subsidiaries with stakeholders. The French NCP stated that it would follow-up on its recommendations in 12 months.