Nevsun lawsuit (re Bisha mine, Eritrea)

Pour la version française de ce profil, cliquez ici.

In November 201Nevsun_mine_Bisha_credit_Nevsun4, three Eritreans filed a lawsuit against Nevsun Resources in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  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.  Nevsun, headquartered in Vancouver, has denied the allegations.  This lawsuit is the first in Canada where claims are based directly on violations of international law.

The plaintiffs, Gize Yebeyo Araya, Kesete Tekle Fshazion and Mihretab Yemane Tekle, claim that they worked at the Bisha mine against their will and were subject to “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”.  They allege that they were forced to work long hours and lived in constant fear of threats of torture and intimidation.  Nevsun has rejected the allegations as “unfounded” and declared that “the Bisha Mine has adhered at all times to international standards of governance, workplace conditions, and health and safety”.

In October 2016, the Supreme Court of British Colombia rejected Nevsun’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit and ruled that the case should proceed in British Colombia as there were doubts that the plaintiffs would get a fair trial in Eritrea. Nevsun appealed the decision.

In November 2017, the British Columbia Court of Appeal rejected Nevsun's appeal to dismiss the suit, thereby allowing the case to proceed in Canadian courts. The court also allowed claims of crimes against humanity, slavery, forced labour, and torture to go forward against Nevsun. This decision marked the first time an appellate court in Canada permitted a mass tort claim for modern slavery.

On 19 January 2018, Nevsun filed an application with the Canadian Supreme Court asking for permission to appeal the British Columbia ruling. On 14 June 2018, the Supreme Court allowed Nevsun to appeal the November 2017 decision, giving the company another chance to argue against the lawsuit going to trial.

- "Supreme Court decision on Vancouver mining company could have international human rights impact, expert says", The Star Vancouver, 25 June 2018
- "Vancouver-based mining company granted Supreme Court appeal in ‘conscripted labour’ case", The Star Vancouver, 22 June 2018
- "Nevsun appeals to Canada Supreme Court in Eritreans' forced labor lawsuit", Reuters, 26 Jan 2018
- "Court allows Eritrean mine workers to sue Nevsun", Nelson Bennett, Business in Vancouver, 6 Oct 2016
- [Video] "Nevsun in Eritrea: Dealing With a Dictator", CBC Radio-Canada, 12 Feb 2016
- [FR] «Une minière canadienne nie des allégations de travail forcé en Érythrée », Radio-Canada, 23 novembre 2014
- “Nevsun Denies Accusations of Human-Rights Abuses at Eritrea Mine”, Michael Gunn & Firat Kayakiran, Bloomberg, 21 Nov 2014
- “Nevsun Resources faces lawsuit over ‘forced labour’ in Eritrea”, Jeff Gray, Globe and Mail (Canada), 20 Nov 2014

Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ):

- "Vancouver court clears way for slave labour lawsuit against Canadian mining company to go to trial", 6 Oct 2016
- “Eritreans file lawsuit against Canadian mining company for slave labour and crimes against humanity”, 20 Nov 2014
- [FR] « Des Érythréens intentent un recours contre une compagnie minière canadienne pour l'usage de main d'œuvre servile ainsi que pour des crimes contre l'humanité », 20 novembre 2014
- "Appeal court confirms slave labour lawsuit against Canadian mining company can go to trial", 21 Nov 2017

Nevsun:
- "Nevsun Comments on B.C. Lawsuit", 6 Oct 2016
- "Nevsun Comments on B.C. Lawsuit", 21 Nov 2014

Camp Fiorante Matthews Mogerman [Counsel for the plaintiffs]
- "Plaintiffs’ Submissions on Forum Non Conveniens", 17 Dec 2015
- "Plaintiffs’ Submissions on the Representative Proceeding", 17 Dec 2015
- "Plaintiffs’ Submissions on Customary International Law", 15 Dec 2015
- "Plaintiffs’ Submissions on the Act of State Doctrine", 14 Dec 2015
- "Notice of Civil Claim", 20 Nov 2014

Siskinds [Co-counsel for the plaintiffs]
- "Siskinds co-counsel in lawsuit against Nevsun Resources", 20 Nov 2014

Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP [Counsel for the defendant]
- "Nevsun’s Chambers Brief on Customary International Law", 1 Dec 2015
- "Nevsun’s Chambers Brief on Forum Non Conveniens", 23 Nov 2015
- "Nevsun’s Chambers Brief on the Act of State Doctrine", 23 Nov 2015
- "Nevsun’s Chambers Brief on the Representative Proceeding", 23 Nov 2015 
- "Nevsun’s Response to Civil Claim", 13 Feb 2015

Araya v. Nevsun Resources. Reasons for Judgment, Justice Abrioux, Supreme Court of British Columbia, 6 Oct 2016
- Araya, Gize v. Nevsun Resources Ltd.[payment required], Vancouver law courts, 20 Nov 2014.  

- Gize Yebeyo Araya, Kesete Tekle Fshazion and Mihretab Yemane Tekle v Nevsun Resources Ltd and Earth Rights International, Court of Appeal for British Columbia, 21 Nov 2017      

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

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Author: Centre canadien pour la justice internationale (CCJI)

Trois hommes d'origine érythréenne ont intenté aujourd'hui devant un tribunal à Vancouver une poursuite au civil contre Nevsun Resources...dénonçant la main d'œuvre servile à laquelle la compagnie minière avait recours pour la construction de la mine de Bisha en Érythrée. Les hommes allèguent que l'entrepreneur local engagé par Nevsun, Segen Construction Company...les a forcés à effectuer des travaux en tant qu'ouvriers conscrits à l'emplacement de la mine de Bisha dans des conditions abusives et que Nevsun a expressément ou implicitement autorisé l'utilisation de la main d'œuvre servile. Ils allèguent que cet usage de main d'œuvre forcée est si répandu et inhumain qu'il constitue un crime contre l'humanité...La poursuite allègue que Nevsun savait ou aurait dû savoir...qu'en embauchant Segen pour le projet Bisha elle courrait un risque élevé que son projet minier ait recours à cette même main d'œuvre servile...La poursuite contre Nevsun représente le cinquième cas du genre devant les tribunaux canadiens...

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Article
20 November 2014

Eritreans file lawsuit against Canadian mining company for slave labour and crimes against humanity

Author: Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ)

Three Eritrean men filed a civil lawsuit...in a Vancouver court against Nevsun Resources…over the use of slave labour at Nevsun’s Bisha Mine in Eritrea. The men allege that Nevsun’s local contractor, Segen Construction Company,…owned by the Eritrean government’s ruling party, forced them to work on projects at the mine under abhorrent conditions and that Nevsun expressly or implicitly approved the use of slave labour, a practice alleged to be so widespread and inhumane that it constitutes crimes against humanity...The lawsuit alleges that Nevsun knew or should have known that Segen had been implicated in slave labour and that in hiring Segen for the Bisha project – Nevsun’s only operating mine – there was a high risk slave labour would be used...The suit against Nevsun represents the fifth active case of its kind in Canadian courts...It is one of the first human rights lawsuits in Canada to assert claims based directly on international law.

 

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Article
20 November 2014

Siskinds co-counsel in lawsuit against Nevsun Resources

Author: Siskinds LLP (Canada)

Canadian mining company Nevsun Resources Ltd. is being sued for complicity in torture, forced labour, slavery, and crimes against humanity, according to a…lawsuit filed in British Columbia…[T]hree plaintiffs filed suit…against Nevsun…whose primary operation is…Bisha mine in…Eritrea…Bisha Mine is…owned and operated by Bisha Mining Share Company (BMSC), a majority-owned, indirect subsidiary of Nevsun.  The Eritrean government holds a 40% stake in BMSC through…Eritrean National Mining Corporation. Eritrea has been widely condemned by international organizations such as the United Nations, the International Labour Organisation, and Human Rights Watch for its widespread and systematic use of forced labour…[C]o-counsel for the plaintiffs, stated “In my view…doing business with a government that is as reprehensible as Eritrea’s is morally repugnant.  No ethical corporation would seek to profit from a relationship with such a repressive regime.” The plaintiffs allege that Nevsun used forced labour…through its subcontractor Segen, a…company controlled by Eritrea’s ruling party...

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Article
19 November 2014

Nevsun Resources faces lawsuit over ‘forced labour’ in Eritrea

Author: Jeff Gray, Globe and Mail (Canada)

Nevsun…is facing a lawsuit in Canada alleging the company was complicit in the use of forced labour by local contractors owned by the African country’s ruling party and military….Nevsun…has previously faced human-rights abuse allegations in a Human Rights Watch report…that criticized the company for failing to stop the use of forced labour at the [Bisha] mine…[In the] lawsuit…[the] three Eritrean refugees allege they were forced to work on the…mine against their will and subjected to long hours, intense heat and threats of torture, with pay of…$30 (U.S.) a month…Nevsun…[said]...last year that it regretted the use of any forced labour at its mine and that it no longer permitted the use of conscripted labour there...The company did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday…At least one worker at the mine, the claim says, died of “heat exhaustion and dehydration”…[Also refers to Segen Construction]

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