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Anvil Mining lawsuit (re complicity in Dem. Rep. of Congo, filed in DRC)

Status: CLOSED

Incident date
Oct. 12, 2006
Location of Filing: Congo (the Democratic Republic of the)
Location of Incident: Congo (the Democratic Republic of the)
Type of Litigation: Domestic
Company: Anvil Mining (part of China Minmetals)
Company Sector: Mining
Company Location: Australia


Snapshot: A 2004 armed attack resulted in several lawsuits and investigations occurring in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Australia, and Canada against Anvil Mining for alleged complicity in human rights abuses. All cases were dismissed in favor of Anvil Mining, except for a complaint before the African Commission on Human and People's Rights, which ordered the Democratic Republic of Congo to "prosecute and punish" Anvil Mining. This case profile looks at proceedings in the DRC.

Pour la version en français, cliquez ici.

In October 2004, the town of Kilwa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), was the site of fighting between the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) and a small group of rebels.  The armed forces launched an attack to take control of the town following a short occupation by the rebels,  committing serious human rights abuses against civilians, including summary executions, arbitrary arrest, rape, and torture. Witnesses alleged that Anvil Mining, who operated the Dikulushi copper mine nearby, provided transportation (planes and vehicles) to the Congolese Armed Forces during this event. Anvil Mining denied allegations.

Proceedings in DRC

After MONUC (UN Mission in DRC) and other national and international NGOs investigated the incident, DRC prosecutors launched investigations of their own.  On 12 October 2006, a military prosecutor charged certain FARDC soldiers with breaches of international humanitarian law and accused three Anvil Mining employees of facilitating the abuses by placing vehicles at the disposal of the army.  Anvil Mining denied any direct involvement in the killings.  It argued that the allegations against its employees were “unfounded and without merit”.  The company did confirm that its vehicles and planes were used in the operation, but it said that they were requisitioned “under the force of law” by the security forces.

On 12 December 2006, the Lubumbashi military high court started to hear the case.  Towards the end of the trial, the military prosecutor indicated that there was insufficient evidence of intent to establish that Anvil Mining or its employees had been complicit in war crimes.  On 28 June 2007, the court acquitted 12 defendants, including the three employees of Anvil Mining.  The court also found Anvil Mining “not guilty”, notwithstanding the fact that Anvil Mining had not formally been tried.  The court took the view that no summary executions had occurred in Kilwa, but that people had been killed during “fierce” fighting between the rebels and the army.  In December 2007, an appeal against the court’s judgment was denied.

News articles:

- "Aust mining company cleared off war crimes charges", ABC News [Australia], 28 Jun 2007
- "Multinational company on trial in Katanga", International Justice Tribune, 22 Jan 2007
- "African tribunal cites Canadian company for role in massacre", Canwest News Service, 17 Oct 2006
- "AFP investigates Anvil Mining over human rights abuses (transcript)", ABC local Radio [Australia], 19 Aug 2005
- "The Kilwa Incident Transcript", ABC Four Corners [Australia], 6 Jun 2005

Anvil Mining:
- [PDF] Anvil and its Employees Acquitted in Kilwa Incident, 28 Jun 2007
- [PDF] Anvil Mining Congo receives notification from Congolese Military Court in relation to the Kilwa incident in October 2004, 18 Oct 2006
- [PDF] Anvil Confirms That Allegations Are Unfounded, 23 Aug 2005
- PDF] Anvil Confirms Denial of Unfounded Allegations, 21 Jun 2005

Rights & Accountability in Development (RAID), Global Witness, Action Contre l’Impunité pour les Droits Humains (ACIDH), Association Africaine de Défense des Droits de l’Homme (ASADHO/KATANGA):

- [PDF] Kilwa Trial: a Denial of Justice – a chronology, October 2004-July 2007, 17 Jul 2007
- [FR] [PDF] Le Procès de Kilwa : un Déni de Justice – Chronologie, Octobre 2004-Juillet 2007, 17 juillet 2007
- Dikulushi copper/silver mine in the DR Congo

- United Nations: High Commissioner for Human Rights concerned at Kilwa military trial in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 4 Jul 2007
- MONUC: Report on the conclusions of a special investigation into alleged summary executions and other human rights violations committed by the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) in Kilwa on 15 October 2004 (English Translation by Rights & Accountability in Development (RAID)), Sep 2005