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23 Feb 2018

Nina de Vries, VOA (USA)

British judges conclude hearings in Sierra Leone on UK mining company accused of rights abuses

"UK Mining Firm Accused of Rights Abuses in Sierra Leone", 19 Feb 2018

Hearings have wrapped in Sierra Leone from claimants accusing mining company Tonkolili Iron Ore of human rights abuses. The allegations against the company, formerly a subsidiary of African Minerals Limited (AML), cover incidents in 2010 and 2012 in the northern region of Tonkolili in Sierra Leone. Kelly Conteh, one of the witnesses, knows he is lucky to be alive. He was one of the people shot in a police crackdown in 2012 on the outskirts of Bumbuna where AML was based. The company's workers were protesting low wages and working conditions...Conteh told a British judge in Freetown this month that he had overheard police talking about how much money AML was paying them in order to stop the protest. Other witnesses reported seeing police in AML vehicles as they arrested people and alleged that AML workers beat residents during the 2010 protest. The Sierra Leone Human Rights Commission made similar allegations in a report it published on the 2012 incident. Legal counsel for AML in Freetown declined to comment on the allegations, when asked by VOA...Thirty-three witnesses testified in Freetown. Those who are claimants are seeking monetary compensation. Many witnesses were denied visas to travel to London, where the bulk of the trial is taking place. It's believed this is the first time a British high court has travelled overseas to hear a case of alleged human rights abuses by a U.K.-based company, according to Leigh Day, the law firm representing the local residents filing the lawsuit.


Part of the following timelines

Villagers from Sierra Leone sue mining company in UK over alleged violence

Tonkolili Iron Ore lawsuit (re complicity in violence against villagers in Sierra Leone)