French retailer Casino and Amazon tribes offered mediation over deforestation

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PARIS, June 9 (Reuters) – A French judge on Thursday offered to mediate in a legal dispute between Casino (CASP.PA) and indigenous groups in Brazil over Casino’s links to Amazon deforestation.

Casino lawyers said the French retailer supported the mediation proposal, while a lawyer for Indigenous groups said he would advise his clients to support the proposal.

The Amazon groups allege Casino failed to do due diligence in its supply chain, leading to the sale of beef linked to deforestation and human rights abuses in the Amazon.

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It is the first time that a French supermarket chain has been sued for deforestation and loss of land and livelihoods under a 2017 law in France called “Duty of Vigilance”. The law holds companies responsible for human rights and environmental violations.

“We advise our clients to accept the mediation proposal,” Sébastien Mabile, a lawyer for the indigenous groups, told Reuters. “What we want is for Casino to stop buying from companies that source from farms that have invaded indigenous lands and are involved in deforestation.”

Mabile said mediation would be faster than a trial: “We have a situation that is getting worse every day on the ground, so we are giving the discussion a chance.”

The casino’s lawyers, Sebastien Schapira and Thomas Rouhette, told Reuters the retailer “hopes this mediation can help overcome a legal action which, coupled with a hostile communication campaign by the plantiffs, is counterproductive.”

The lawyers added that Casino and its subsidiaries were “indisputably among the most advanced companies in the sector in the fight against deforestation”.

Environmental activists and representatives of Brazil’s indigenous groups, who say their rights have been violated, their lands and territories stolen, and their forests and livelihoods destroyed, protested earlier outside the Palace of justice.

“Casino Group networks support intensive agriculture (…) which devastates forests, impoverishes soils and destroys the social structures of forest populations,” said Crisanto Rudzo, a representative of the Xavante people of Mato Grosso.

Casino, which controls Brazil’s largest food retailer, Grupo Pao de Acucar (GPA) and through it also Colombian retailer Almacenes Exito, has repeatedly said it is actively fighting deforestation by cattle ranchers in Brazil. and in Colombia.

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Report by Dominique Vidalon and Juliette Jabkhiro; Editing by Bernadette Baum

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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