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United Kingdom High Court judge to hear victims in Sierra Leone in landmark case of mining company's alleged complicity in police crackdown

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Article
31 January 2018

How Sierra Leonean farmers got their day in Court

Author: Martyn Day and Liberty Bridge. Leigh Day

...The Claimants allege that the mine owners instructed the Sierra Leonean police force to use excessive violence to quell both these otherwise peaceful protests. The allegations include that they were shot, beaten, arbitrarily arrested, subject to sexual violence and tortured.

The Defendants deny these allegations. 

...The 6 week trial is taking place in both London and Sierra Leone. Mr. Justice Turner will travel to Sierra Leone for weeks 2 and 3 of the trial where he will sit as a Special Examiner.

Civil Procedure Rule 34.13 provides for the appointment of a Special Examiner. This rule makes provision for when a party wishes to take evidence from a witness who does not reside in the UK. 

...The majority of the [claimants'] visas were subsequently rejected and so the Special Examiner appointment proceeded. Permission had to be requested from the Sierra Leone government...

...It is a credit to the UK judicial system - so often called the 'gold standard' - that persons from anywhere in the world and any background can get their day in court in pursuit of justice against a UK based company, and on an equal footing to a billion dollar mining-giant.

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Article
29 January 2018

UK mining company faces landmark High Court case over alleged worker abuse in Sierra Leone

Author: Shafi Musaddique, Independent (UK)

A landmark High Court case against a UK mining company accused of abusing workers and villagers near one of its mines in Sierra Leone starts on Monday.

Tonkolili Iron Ore... is alleged to have been complicit in rape, assault, false imprisonment and the murder of a protestor by police, in incidents occurring in 2010 and 2012. The High Court is expected to hear allegations that Tonkolili played a role in the fatal shooting by police of a 24-year-old woman, killed after a protest over pay and conditions.

...Leigh Day, the law firm representing the claimants, said abuses started after the company forced hundreds of families out of their villages to make way for mines. According to Human Rights Watch, villagers received minimal consultation from the company on its plans to expand near Bumbuna in the north of Sierra Leone.

Tonkolili denies responsibility for the incidents against workers and villagers. It claims that the responsibility solely lies with the Sierra Leone police.   

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Article
26 January 2018

Landmark High Court case begins over alleged abuses by UK-based mining company in Sierra Leone

Author: Leigh Day

A six week hearing will begin on Monday 29 January in the High Court against iron ore producer Tonkolili Iron Ore Ltd, whose parent company African Minerals Ltd was previously headquartered in the UK, following allegations of human rights abuses against workers and villagers living near one of its mines in Sierra Leone.

It is believed to be the first time a UK High Court hearing will travel to an overseas country in which the human rights abuses are alleged to have taken place by a UK-based company.

...The decision to hold part of the hearing was taken after a number of witnesses were unable to obtain visas to attend trial in the UK and the judge agreed it was important for this evidence to be taken in person rather than by video link.

142 claimants from Sierra Leone have taken the legal action... over claims the company was complicit in the activities by the police of false imprisonment, assault and rape during two incidents in 2010 and 2012.

Allegations will also be heard against the company in relation to its role in the fatal shooting by police of a 24-year-old female... during a protest over working conditions and pay during the 2012 incident.

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