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16 Mar 2020

James Yap, Lawyer & President of Canadian Lawyers for International Human Rights (CLAIHR)

Nevsun Resources Ltd. v. Araya: What the Canadian Supreme Court decision means in holding Canadian companies accountable for human rights abuses abroad

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In 2014, three Eritreans refugees filed a claim against Nevsun Resources, a Canadian mining company headquartered in Vancouver. They allege the company was complicit in the use of forced labour by Nevsun’s local sub-contractor, Segen Construction (owned by Eritrea’s ruling party), at the Bisha mine in Eritrea. They have also claimed breaches of customary international law. Nevsun denies the allegations and asked the lawsuit to be dimissed, arguing that Eritrea was a more appropriate forumto litigate the case than Canada. In 2020, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the claim, ruling there was no bar to the plaintiff's claims being heard in Canadian court. Additionally, they affirmed that customary international law can bind corporations and are actionable in Canada. 

James Yap, the co-counsel for the plaintiffs in this case, gives an in-depth analysis of the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Resource Centre's case profile on this lawsuit is here.