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Anvil Mining lawsuit (re Dem. Rep. of Congo)

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.


Pour la version française de ce profil, 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.  Anvil Mining operated the Dikulushi copper mine near Kilwa.  Witnesses alleged that Anvil Mining 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.

Proceedings in Australia & Canada

In addition to Anvil Mining’s operations in DRC, the company also has offices in Australia and Canada.  In September 2005, the Australian Federal Police launched an inquiry into the actions of Anvil Mining to establish if there was evidence of the company’s complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity.  The inquiry was closed in August 2007 following the acquittal of the Anvil Mining defendants in the DRC lawsuit.

In November 2010, the Canadian Association Against Impunity (an association representing survivors of the incidents in October 2004) launched a civil class action against the company in the Quebec Superior Court.  The plaintiffs alleged that Anvil Mining was complicit in the human rights abuses that occurred in Kilwa in 2004.  In late April 2011, the Superior Court of Quebec ruled that the case had sufficient links to Quebec in order to establish the court's jurisdiction to hear the case.  On 1 November 2012, the Canadian Supreme Court announced that it would not hear the plaintiffs' appeal.

Complaint before the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

In November 2010, three NGOs brought a complaint to the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights on behalf of eight of the victims.  In June 2017, the Commission found the DRC Government responsible for the Kilwa massacre and demanded that victims be awarded $2.5 million as compensation.  It also called on the government to "prosecute and punish" Anvil Mining staff who helped the army.

- "Supreme Court won't hear appeal in Congo massacre case", Canadian Press, 1 Nov 2012
- "Congolese raise mining lawsuit in Supreme Court", Canadian Press, 26 Mar 2012
- "Canadian mining company accused of complicity in Congo massacre", Maclean’s [Canada], 8 Nov 2010
- "Aust mining company cleared of 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): 
- [DOC] No justice in Canada for Congolese massacre victims as Canada's Supreme Court dismisses leave to appeal, 1 Nov 2012
- [PDF] Congolese massacre survivors to pursue justice at the Supreme Court of Canada, 31 Jan 2012
- [PDF] “Significant step forward in holding Anvil Mining to account”: Statement by The Canadian Association Against Impunity regarding the ruling of the Superior Court of Quebec, 29 Apr 2011
- [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

- Supreme Court of Canada Case Information [court documents]
- [FR] Cour d'Appel de Québec: Association Canadienne Contre L'Impunité c. Anvil Mining Limited, 24 janvier 2012
- [FR] Cour Supérieur de Québec: [PDF] Association Canadienne Contre l'Impunité c. Anvil Mining Limited - Jugement, 27 avril 2011

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