Guatemalan protestors reach landmark settlement in lawsuit against Canadian co. Pan American Silver

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14 August 2019

Foreign plaintiffs can access Canadian courts for claims against parent companies over subsidiaries liability for abuses abroad

Author: Aidan Macnab, Canadian Lawyer

"Canadian companies can face legal action in Canada for subsidiary’s crimes in foreign jurisdictions", 6 Aug 2019

A recently concluded lawsuit against a mining company shows that Canadian companies can face legal action in Canada for the actions of their subsidiaries in other jurisdictions.

On July 30, Vancouver-based Pan American Silver Corp. announced they had settled out-of-court with and apologized to four Guatemalan men who were shot by security guards during a protest near a silver mine, in 2013. The Escobal Mine in San Rafael Las Flores, Santa Rosa in Guatemala was then run by Tahoe Resources Inc. The men, who were among others protesting what they said was a lack of community consultation by the company, brought a civil suit against Tahoe in the B.C. Supreme Court in 2014. This February, Pan American acquired Tahoe...

At the trial level, Tahoe asked the court to reject its own jurisdiction on the grounds of forum non conveniens, arguing that Guatemala was a more appropriate venue for the plaintiffs to try their claim. B.C. Supreme Court Justice Laura Gerow granted the order.

“The question is not whether Canada’s legal system is fairer and more efficient than Guatemala’s legal system. It is whether the foreign legal system is capable of providing justice,” wrote Gerow in her decision. Gerow stated that Canadian courts must be cautious in denying a foreign court the right to deliver justice to its own citizens, in case Canada is given the same treatment in return...

“So, what the B.C. Court of Appeal decision does is it affirms that the starting point is a presumption that Canadian courts have primary jurisdiction over Canadian companies,” Fiorante says. “So that's the default position. And it’s only if it’s plain and obvious or absolutely clear that the foreign court is better placed to do justice that the case should be dismissed on forum non conveniens grounds.”...


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31 July 2019

Guatemalan protestors receive public apology from Pan American Silver after reaching landmark conclusion in Canadian court

Author: Mining Weekly (So. Africa)

"Court case sets precedent for claims arising from overseas activities of Canadian miners", 30 Jul 2019

The six-year legal battle between a group of Guatemalan protestors and Tahoe Resources of Vancouver, Canada, has come to a conclusion, with new owner Pan American Silver issuing a public apology on behalf of the company that it bought for $1.07-billion in February this year.

Pan American Silver conceded on Tuesday that “the shooting on April 27, 2013, infringed the human rights of the protestors”, and the mining company, on behalf of Tahoe, apologized to the victims and to the community...

In April 2013, the protestors gathered at the entrance to Tahoe's Escobal mine in south-east Guatemala to protest the lack of community consultation on the project. The head of security for the mine, Alberto Rotondo, ordered security personnel to break up the demonstration by shooting at the protestors. Several were injured, one very seriously.

The victims retained Vancouver-based Camp Fiorante Matthews Mogerman (CFM Lawyers) to represent them in a civil suit against Tahoe in Canada...

"This is an important victory for us and our community," said claimant Luis Fernando García. "It vindicates our right to protest and to continue our resistance against mining operations in our community."

The conclusion of the case does not impede the ability of the protestors to exercise their legal rights of protest related to the mine in the future...


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31 July 2019

Pan American Silver forced to offer settlement to Guatemala victims of mining repression and violence

Author: Grahame Russell, Rights Action

On July 30, 2019, lawyers for the Guatemalan victims of Tahoe Resources’ mining-linked repression in 2013, announced they reached a reparations settlement with Pan American Silver (new owner of Tahoe Resources)...

Establishing a precedent in Canadian law, this settlement shows again how long and hard is the road to properly and fully hold Canadian companies accountable in Canadian courts for crimes, harms and/or violations they cause or are responsible for in other countries.
After five years of legal battle in British Columbia (Canada) courts, the decision of Pan American Silver to offer a fair settlement to the Guatemalan victims of Tahoe Resources’ mining violence in 2013, is a hugely important, small step forward in on-going work and struggle to hold Canadian companies accountable crimes, harms and violations they cause or are responsible for in other countries.
In 2013, a Canadian court ruled for the first time in Canadian legal history (the Hudbay Minerals lawsuits, filed in 2010) that Canadian companies can be held accountable in Canadian courts if found responsible for crimes, harms and/or violations in other countries.  After that precedent, the Tahoe Resources lawsuit was filed in 2014...

Now, the Tahoe Resources lawsuit is the first case of its kind to legally force a Canadian company to offer a reparations settlement found acceptable to the victim-plaintiffs...

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30 July 2019

Pan American Silver Announces Resolution of Garcia v. Tahoe Case

Author: Pan American Silver

Pan American Silver Corp. (NASDAQ: PAAS) (TSX: PAAS) ("Pan American" or the "Company") is pleased to announce that we have achieved final resolution with Guatemalan community members who commenced a Supreme Court of British Columbia action in 2014 against Tahoe Resources Inc. ("Tahoe").

In April 2013, members of the local community in San Rafael Las Flores, Santa Rosa, in Guatemala, were engaged in protests at the Escobal Mine, owned by Minera San Rafael, regarding the issue of prior community consultation.

On April 27, 2013, the mine's security guards, headed by the chief of security, Alberto Rotondo, shot at protesters who had gathered on the public road outside the gates of the mine. A number of individuals were injured during the shooting including Adolfo Agustin GarciaLuis Fernando Garcia MonroyWilmer Francisco Perez Martinez, and Misael Eberto Martinez Sasvin, who filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Canada, against Tahoe Resources Inc., owner of Minera San Rafael, seeking justice for the violation of their rights.

On February 22, 2019, Pan American Silver acquired Tahoe.

Pan American strongly condemns and will not resort to the use of any violence. While these events occurred well before the acquisition, Pan American, on behalf of Tahoe, acknowledges that the shooting on April 27, 2013, infringed the human rights of the protesters. Pan American, on behalf of Tahoe, apologizes to the victims and to the community.

Nearly six years after the shooting, Adolfo Agustin GarciaLuis Fernando Garcia MonroyWilmer Francisco Perez Martinez, and Misael Eberto Martinez Sasvin, have achieved a resolution of their lawsuit in Canadaagainst Tahoe with Pan American. The case has now been concluded...

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