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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Press Release: Apartheid Profiteers Defeated in Court

Press Release: Apartheid Profiteers Defeated in Court
Umzabalazo we Jubilee
13th of October 2007

On the 12th of October, the long awaited verdict of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on the Khulumani v. Barclays et. al. court case was handed down. The U.S. Court ruled that the case against the corporations could go ahead despite strong opposition from both the South African and the American Governments.

The Khulumani v. Barclays lawsuit charges 23 multinational corporations with aiding and abetting Apartheid, and was initiated by 87 individual South Africans, all of whom were victims of gross human rights abuses during Apartheid. The lawsuit is based on common law principles of liability and on the Alien Claims Tort Act, which grants U.S. courts jurisdiction over certain violations of international law regardless of where they occur.

The decision of the US Court of Appeals marks a watershed moment in legal history. By allowing the lawsuit to go to trial, the Court is allowing the possibility of corporations to be held account for human rights abuses outside of their home countries. If legal precedent can be made in this case, the days of large companies actively supporting illegitimate regimes will be over.

Umzabalazo we Jubilee fully supports the Court’s decision, and looks forward to the victims of Apartheid having the chance to obtain reparations from the companies that provided the weapons, finances, and oil that the Apartheid government required for its very existence. None of these companies appeared before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, despite being requested to do so.

Since 2005, activists from Umzabalazo we Jubilee have been engaged in a bitter struggle with Barclays Bank (owner of ABSA bank). Barclays has refused to come clean on its Apartheid activities, and has consistently rejected appeals for it to apologise and make reparations to the South African public.

The charges against Barclays Bank are indicative of the charges laid against the other 22 corporations in the lawsuit:

*In 1976, Barclays bought R10 million in Defence Force Bonds and called it an act of “corporate and social responsibility”.
*Between 1972 and 1978, Barclays helped the Apartheid Government to obtain nearly US$500 million in loans
*In 1974, Barclays participated in a US$15 million Eskom Eurobond issue.
*In 1979, Barclays purchased R20 million in SASOL shares.
*Between 1982 and 1984, Barclays’ loans to South Africa totaled US$725.4 million.

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2 Comments:

  • This is good news and I do hope reparations will be forthcoming, but, to be honest, I doubt they will actually ever pay up...

    I was a bit disappointed and quite perplexed to see Tutu in an Absa TV add the other day. Have you seen it/ What's that about?!?

    By Anonymous Andreas, At 11:58 am  

  • Well, if they win in court, the corporations will have to pay. This may go all the way to the supreme court.

    Don't know anything about Tutu in an ABSA TV ad....

    By Blogger Tristen, At 12:35 pm  

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