Veolia-controlled company participating in a public tender in The Netherlands
As Palestinian organisations dedicated to the protection and promotion of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), we are concerned about the involvement of corporations in violations of international humanitarian law. Of recent concern are the activities of Veolia Environment, a French multinational providing infrastructure through its subsidiary VeoliaTransdev to Israeli local authorities, for its involvement in the construction of a light rail tramway linking West Jerusalem to illegal Jewish settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank.
On 3 May 2011, as Palestinian Council of Human Rights Organisations, we sent Stadsregio Arnhem Nijmegen a letter urging them to exclude VeoliaTransdev, parent company of the Dutch transport market leader Connexxion, from the upcoming one billion Euros public transport tender for Arnhem Nijmegen and from all future contracts on grounds of grave misconduct in the OPT. The tender in question will include all the Arnhem Nijmegen city district’s public bus services as well as the Arnhem-Doetinchem railway line, one of the most frequently traveled regional tracks.
In a press release issued two weeks after our joint advocacy initiative, Dutch local authorities publicly announced that Hermes and Keolis are taking part in the public transport tender while VeoliaTransdev will not participate in the bid. However, Hermes is a subsidiary of Connexxion, which means that Connexxion exercises full control over one of the two companies tendering. Connexxion, itself subject to the control of VeoliaTransdev, effectively brings Hermes under the overall control of the Veolia Group. By virtue of this structural relationship, VeoliaTransdev will benefit from profits generated through the exploitation of the public transport concession for the Arnhem Nijmegen city district, should Hermes be awarded the contract.
The undersigned organisations find it highly problematic that VeoliaTransdev, a company with a disputed reputation and involvement in illegal activities in the OPT, circumvents civil society concerns by tendering through Hermes, and therefore calls on the Stadsregio Arnhem Nijmegen to exclude Veolia’s vehicle Hermes from the public transport tender.
We are further gravely concerned about the relationship between the Dutch Government and transporter Connexxion. The Dutch Government owns one-third of the shares in formerly state-owned Connexxion as a result of a controversial transaction between the Dutch Government and Transdev and the Bank Nederlandse Gemeenten (a specialised financial institution for the public sector) in which, in mid-2007, the State sold two-third of its shares to French transporter Transdev.
It is highly undesirable for the Dutch Government to have a shareholders relationship with VeoliaTransdev, as its obligations under international law cannot be reconciled with the violations of international humanitarian law to which the Veolia Group is associated to. Therefore, as Palestinian human rights organisations, we call upon the Dutch Government to promptly reconsider its participation in businesses of the Veolia Group.
Addameer Prisoner Support and
Human Rights Association
Ensan Center for Human Rights and
|Khalil Abu Shammala
Al-Dameer Association for Human
Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid
and Human Rights
Ramallah Center for Human Rights
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights
|Maha Abu Dayieh
Women’s Centre for Legal Aid
Defence for Children International
- Palestine Section