Canadian court allows lawsuit against Nevsun for forced labour in Eritrea mine to continue
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Author: Justice Abrioux, Supreme Court of British Columbia
The plaintiffs, who are refugees from the State of Eritrea which is located in East Africa, make allegations of the most serious nature against the defendant Nevsun...The proceeding raises issues of transnational law being the term used for the convergence of customary international law and private claims for human rights redresses and which include: (a) whether claims for damages arising out of the alleged breach of jus cogens or peremptory norms of customary international law such as forced labour and torture may form the basis of a civil proceeding in British Columbia; (b) the potential corporate liability for alleged breaches of both private and customary international law. This in turn raises issues of corporate immunity and whether the act of state doctrine raises a complete defence to the plaintiffs’ claims...Nevsun has not established that Eritrea is the appropriate forum. Accordingly the action will proceed in this Court...
Author: Nelson Bennett, Business in Vancouver
In a decision that is likely to have every Canadian mining and oil and gas company that operates in a developing country sitting up and taking notes, the BC Supreme Court today ruled that a civil action brought by three Eritrean workers against Vancouver’s Nevsun Resources...On October 6, Justice Patrice Abrioux rejected Nevsun’s move to dismiss the case...The ruling may set an important precedent for Canadian companies operating outside of Canada. More than three-quarters of the world’s mining and exploration companies are based in Canada and operate in 100 countries...“The Nevsun case is the first case of this kind against an extractive company that had been operating overseas, in this context, to go forward.”...Canadian courts have jurisdiction to try Canadian companies for alleged criminal acts that occurred in other countries, but have been reluctant to do so...In rejecting Nevsun’s motion to have the action against it dismissed, Abrioux said there was some doubt that the three Eritreans would get a fair trial in Eritrea”...Nevsun said it is studying the court’s decision and considering appealing it.
Author: Cliff T. Davis, Nevsun Resources Ltd.
Nevsun Resources Ltd...advises that the British Columbia Supreme Court has refused to permit a claim against Nevsun to proceed as a common law class action. The court did permit the lawsuit by the three named plaintiffs to continue. Today’s court decision addresses only preliminary legal challenges to the action raised by Nevsun. The judgment makes no findings with respect to the plaintiffs’ allegations, including whether any of them were in fact at the Bisha Mine. The judge also emphasized that the case raises novel and complex legal questions, including on international law, which have never before been considered in Canada. Nevsun is studying the court’s decision and considering an appeal of the decision that the action can proceed at all. Nevsun remains confident that its indirect 60%-owned Eritrean subsidiary, Bisha Mining Share Company (“BMSC”) operates the Bisha Mine according to international standards of governance, workplace conditions, health, safety and human rights...BMSC is committed to managing the Bisha Mine in a safe and responsible manner that respects the interests of local communities, workers, stakeholders and the natural environment.
Author: Canadian Centre for International Justice
The Supreme Court of British Columbia today rejected efforts by Vancouver-based Nevsun Resources...to dismiss a lawsuit brought by three Eritrean men who allege they were forced to work at Nevsun’s Bisha Mine. This marks the first time that a mass tort claim for modern slavery will go forward in a Canadian court, and the first time a case against a mining company for alleged abuses in overseas operations has been allowed to proceed in British Columbia. Mr. Justice Patrice Abrioux rejected Nevsun’s position that the case should be dismissed in Canada and instead heard in Eritrea...In another groundbreaking decision, Justice Abrioux determined that claims of crimes against humanity, slavery, forced labour and torture can go forward against Nevsun. It is the first time that a Canadian court has recognized that a corporation can be taken to trial for alleged violations of customary international law...“Nevsun’s Corporate Social Responsibility policy says that the company is unequivocally committed to responsible practices at the Bisha Mine, based on international standards of human rights,”...With this ruling, there are now cases advancing in multiple Canadian jurisdictions against companies accused of responsibility for severe human rights abuses...