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Canada's Supreme Court decision in Nevsun case over complicity in alleged forced labour in Eritrea could eliminate barriers to access to justice, says academic

Author: Justin Ling, National Magazine (Canada), Published on: 21 January 2019

"The sovereignty of states and multinational corporate accountability", 11 Jan 2019

...Later this month, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear Nevsun Resources v Gize Yebeyo Araya, a case that will put the Act of State Doctrine to its first test in a Canadian court.  The case will serve to gauge the extent to which international human rights law has a footing in the Canadian legal system...

The three litigants bringing the case before the Supreme Court are refugees from Eritrea — two currently living in the United States, and one a permanent resident of Canada...

“They allege that during the construction of the mine, they were forced to work in inhumane conditions and under the constant threat of physical punishment, torture, and imprisonment.”...

Should the respondents carry the day, it will represent one of the first times that a case of this nature will actually proceed to the merits.

“It would be important because it could potentially eliminate some of the obstacles in bringing some of these cases to Canada,” Simons says.

If those obstacles are to be dismantled, Nevsun argues, it should be up to Parliament to decide...

Ultimately, what the court says, and how it says it, is going to mean a lot for Canadian-based companies operating abroad.

If the court allows the case to proceed on its merits, virtually every Canadian company carrying on business in states with poor human rights records may have to significantly reassess their liability...

 

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Related companies: Nevsun