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Villagers from Sierra Leone sue mining company in UK over alleged violence

Mining Sierra Leone Credit West African Minerals

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23 February 2018

British judges conclude hearings in Sierra Leone on UK mining company accused of rights abuses

Author: Nina de Vries, VOA (USA)

"UK Mining Firm Accused of Rights Abuses in Sierra Leone", 19 Feb 2018

Hearings have wrapped in Sierra Leone from claimants accusing mining company Tonkolili Iron Ore of human rights abuses. The allegations against the company, formerly a subsidiary of African Minerals Limited (AML), cover incidents in 2010 and 2012 in the northern region of Tonkolili in Sierra Leone. Kelly Conteh, one of the witnesses, knows he is lucky to be alive. He was one of the people shot in a police crackdown in 2012 on the outskirts of Bumbuna where AML was based. The company's workers were protesting low wages and working conditions...Conteh told a British judge in Freetown this month that he had overheard police talking about how much money AML was paying them in order to stop the protest. Other witnesses reported seeing police in AML vehicles as they arrested people and alleged that AML workers beat residents during the 2010 protest. The Sierra Leone Human Rights Commission made similar allegations in a report it published on the 2012 incident. Legal counsel for AML in Freetown declined to comment on the allegations, when asked by VOA...Thirty-three witnesses testified in Freetown. Those who are claimants are seeking monetary compensation. Many witnesses were denied visas to travel to London, where the bulk of the trial is taking place. It's believed this is the first time a British high court has travelled overseas to hear a case of alleged human rights abuses by a U.K.-based company, according to Leigh Day, the law firm representing the local residents filing the lawsuit.


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1 December 2015

Villagers in Sierra Leone are suing iron ore mining company African minerals

Author: Abdul Thomas, Sierra Leone Telegraph (Sierra Leone)

African Minerals Ltd., Sierra Leone’s largest mining company is in hot water again…It had been accused by workers and local residents of Tonkolili district of paying peanuts to the local workforce, and operating under poor working conditions.  Residents living near the mines have also protested against what they regard as serious violation and abdicating of its corporate social responsibility…African Minerals Limited is being sued in a London court over allegations that it evicted residents and violently mistreated workers and villagers living close to one of its mines in Sierra Leone…The multi-million-pound lawsuit will involve 142 claimants who are aiming to receive compensation for injuries sustained during two incidents in 2010 and 2012…The company was heavily impacted by the Ebola crisis in 2014.  In December of that year, the combination of a lack of investment and slumping iron ore prices forced the miner to halt its operations…The Chinese steel company said in April that it planned to return the mine, which is the second largest iron ore mine in Africa, to full production during the wet season.

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29 November 2015

Sierra Leone villagers sue mining company in London high court

Author: Lisa O’Carroll, Guardian (UK)

An iron ore firm once listed in London is being sued in a multimillion pound lawsuit over evictions and alleged violent treatment of workers and villagers living near one of its mines in Sierra Leone.  African Minerals Limited is accused of complicity in false imprisonment, assault and battery, trespass and theft of the claimants’ property…[T]he mining company denies liability, saying it has no vicarious responsibility for any actions of the police and the English courts lack jurisdiction for events in Sierra Leone…Its latest case centres on two alleged incidents near an AML mining site on the outskirts of Bumbuna town in the north of Sierra Leone, where it says landowners were subjected to unprovoked violence and harassment.  According to court filings, a number of villages were taken over and hundreds of families relocated with minimal consultation in a move to allow the company to expand its operations…[T]he villagers told the mining company they were trespassing on their lands and set up a roadblock to stop them destroying their farms and their livelihoods…

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