Danzer Denies Human-Rights Abuses in Congolese Forest VillageMichael J. Kavanagh
Danzer Group, a Switzerland-based wood processor, denied accusations by activist groups that one of its senior managers was responsible for human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2011.
Global Witness, a London-based advocacy group, and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights filed a complaint with the state prosecutor’s office in Tubingen, Germany, on April 25 against a senior manager of Danzer’s former subsidiary, Siforco. They accused Siforco of providing financial and logistical help to Congolese police and military in an attack on the village of Bongulu, on May 2, 2011.
Siforco officials didn’t know the police intended to attack the village when they were “forced” to provide a company vehicle to use as transport, Danzer said in an e-mailed statement today. “The event is most regrettable, but was beyond the control of Siforco,” it said.
Congolese security forces raped and injured villagers and destroyed property during the attack, according to Global Witness and the ECCHR. Siforco provided medical support and compensation for the victims after the attack, Danzer said today.
Congolese police went to the village to recover equipment and material stolen from Siforco, it said.
Danzer sold Siforco to Congo-based Blattner group in February, 2012.