Perfil de las demandas judiciales contra la empresa Drummond

For an English-language version of this case profile, please click here.

En el 2002, los familiares de tres líderes sindicales asesinados en Colombia, y el sindicato al cual pertenecían, Sintramienergética, presentaron una demanda contra Drummond Company, Inc. y contra su empresa subsidiaria Drummond Ltd. (la cual le pertenece 100%), ante un tribunal federal estadounidense. Los demandantes alegan que Drummond contrató a paramilitares colombianos para asesinar y torturar a los tres líderes sindicales en el 2001. Sintramienergética representa a trabajadores de las operaciones extractivas de carbón de la compañía Drummond en Colombia.

El caso fue presentado bajo los términos de las leyes federales estadounidenses Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA), ley de protección a víctimas de tortura (US Torture Victim Protection Act), y leyes del Estado de Alabama. La empresa Drummond solicitó la desestimación de la demanda, y el tribunal federal accedió en el 2003 a esta solicitud pero sólo en respecto a las alegaciones bajo la ley estatal y una de las alegaciones bajo el ATCA. El tribunal rechazó desestimar las alegaciones bajo el ATCA por asesinatos extrajudiciales y por negación del derecho de asociación y a la organización laboral. En marzo del 2007 el tribunal decidió que el caso en contra de Drummond Ltd. (la empresa subsidiaria) podía proceder a juicio, pero rechazó el caso en contra de Drummond Company (la empresa matriz). En junio del 2007 el juez de un tribunal de distrito, aunque rechazó los cargos por muerte por negligencia de un tercero, permitió que los cargos de crímenes de guerra bajo el ATCA (por las ejecuciones sumarias) procedieran. El juicio tuvo lugar en julio del 2007. El jurado absolvió a Drummond, decidiendo que la empresa no tuvo responsabilidad en las muertes de los tres líderes sindicales asesinados. El 11 de diciembre del 2007 los demandantes apelaron el veredicto de la corte menor ante el tribunal de apelación del decimoprimer circuito. El 25 de marzo de 2015, el tribunal rechazó la demanda contra Drummond por haberse producido los daños fuera de EEUU.

En marzo del 2009 los hijos de los tres líderes sindicales asesinados presentaron una nueva demanda ante un tribunal federal estadounidense en contra de Drummond, alegando la complicidad de la empresa en los asesinatos. Adicionalmente, otra demanda más fue presentada ante un tribunal federal estadunidense en mayo del 2009 contra Drummond por los presuntos pagos de la empresa al grupo paramilitar AUC (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia) con el fin de que mataran a líderes sindicales. La empresa ha negado estas alegaciones. Mientras que una corte de primera instancia desestimó la demanda presentada por los hijos de los líderes sindicales, el 3 de febrero del 2011 el tribunal federal de apelaciones revocó esta decisión y remitió el caso nuevamente a la corte inferior. El tribunal de apelación concluyó que los hijos si tenían locus standi para presentar una demanda contra Drummond y dejo en su lugar las alegaciones de los hijos bajo los términos del ATCA y de la ley de protección a víctimas de tortura para seguir los procedimientos legales en el juicio en la corte de primera instancia. El 25 de Julio de 2013 el tribunal federal de distrito rechazó el caso. El juez citó la decisión de la corte suprema estadounidense en Kiobel vs. Shell argumentando la falta de competencia para examinar el caso de Drummond.

En febrero de 2013 un ex contratista de Drummond fue sentenciado por un tribunal colombiano a 38 años de cárcel por organizar en 2001 el asesinato de dos líderes sindicales. El juez ordenó a los fiscales investigar al presidente de Drummond y a varios ex trabajadores a fin de determinar si habían colaborado en dichas muertes. Consecuentemente, en mayo de 2015, un antiguo directivo fue acusado del asesinato de dos sindicalistas, después de que dos paramilitares reclamasen haber tomado parte en los asesinatos ordenados por la compañía. Este caso se decidirá ahora ante tribunales colombianos.

En octubre de 2018, la Fiscalía General de la Nación de Colombia reabrió la investigación contra ocho antiguos empleados de Drummond por supuestas acusaciones de financiamiento de crímenes de guerra en Colombia, entre 1996 y 2006. La empresa negó haber apoyado a grupos armados ilegales.

- "War crimes lawsuit against Drummond dismissed", Ryan Poe, Birmingham Business Journal, 31 Jul 2013
- "Mining Company Faces Suit Over Union Killings", Kevin Duvall, 4 Feb 2011
- "Suit claims Ala. coal firm funded Colombian terror", Bob Johnson, AP, 28 May 2009
- "Children Sue Ala. Company In Colombian Mine Deaths", Jay Reeves, AP, 20 Mar 2009
- "Alabama Company Is Exonerated in Murders at Colombian Mine", Kyle Whitmore, New York Times, 27 Jul 2007
- “Drummond case shows danger facing Colombian unions”, Hugh Bronstein, Reuters, 16 Nov 2006
- “US firm sued after mine union leaders' deaths”, Andrew Gumbel, Independent [UK], 25 Mar 2002

- Drummond Ltd.: [PDF] Drummond does not negotiate with illegal groups; the Company emphatically rejects all charges against the company and its executives, 21 Mar 2007 [press release]
- Drummond Company: Drummond's Colombian Operations
- International Rights Advocates [plaintiffs’ co-counsel]: Drummond [includes links to certain news items about the case and certain legal documents]

- US District Court for the Northern District of Alabama: [PDF] Balcero Giraldo, et al. v. Drummond Company - Memorandum Opinion Granting Summary Judgment, 25 Jul 2013
- US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit: [PDF] Locarno Baloco, et al. v. Drummond Company, Inc., 3 Feb 2011
- [PDF] Romero, et al. v. Drummond, et al. - Appellants' Opening Brief, 11 Dec 2007
- [PDF] Estate of Valmore Lacarno Rodriguez v. Drummond Company - Complaint, 14 Mar 2002
- US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit: [PDF] Juan Aquas Romero v. Drummond Company, 14 Mar 2007 [order unsealing certain case documents]
- US District Court for the Northern District of Alabama: [PDF] Estate of Valmore Lacarno Rodriguez v. Drummond Company, 14 Apr 2003 [order dismissing certain claims, declining to dismiss claims for extrajudicial killings and denial of rights to associate & organise]

 

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Artículo
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Autor(a): Reuters

Eight current and former officials of U.S. coal producer Drummond Co Inc...were called last week to testify before Colombian investigators about allegations the company supported far-right paramilitary death squads...

Prosecutors have investigated allegations for more than a decade that Drummond financed paramilitary groups involved in the 2001 assassination of two union leaders in northern Colombia.

Drummond and company officials were exonerated by U.S. courts in the case. In Colombia officials were also exonerated, but a contractor was sentenced to 38 years in prison for making payments to the paramilitaries...

The attorney general's office would not confirm whether this investigation relates to new allegations or if it is part of an open investigation into the previous charges...

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Autor(a): Associated Press, Tuscaloosanews.com

Colombian authorities confirmed Tuesday that they have reopened an investigation into whether an Alabama-based coal company financed a paramilitary group during the South American nation’s bloody civil conflict. The chief prosecutor’s office said the investigation into the Colombian subsidiary of Drummond Co. Inc. is focusing on irregular payments allegedly made to a contractor, Jose Blanco, who was convicted in 2013 in the killing of two union leaders who worked at Drummond. They were sentenced to 38 years in prison. Accusations have long swirled that Drummond financed an umbrella paramilitary group, but U.S. courts have repeatedly ruled against the families of the Colombian victims...

Drummond issued a statement Tuesday denying the accusation and vowing to cooperate fully with any probe. “The company reiterates that it has never supported illegal armed groups,” the statement said. Terry Collingsworth, a lawyer representing relatives of those killed by right-wing militias during the conflict, said the new investigation is a “first step” toward holding Drummond officials accountable and paying reparations. “Justice is coming,” he said. Drummond has been operating in Colombia for several decades and is one of the nation’s biggest coal exporters. In repeated lawsuits, human rights activists and victim relatives have alleged that Drummond hired militias to silence union activists and suspected leftists.

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Autor(a): International Rights Advocates

The Colombian Specialized Criminal Prosecutor’s Office No. 247 conducted an independent investigation across the last year and concluded there was sufficient evidence to formally open a criminal case against Drummond Company Ltd., the American coal giant, for financing the terrorist United Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), the umbrella paramilitary group in Colombia.

The prosecutor named the Drummond officials who provided funding, logistical support and other assistance to the AUC’s war crimes from 1996 to 2006.

[The NGO] IRAdvocates represents over 600 families who had a close relative murdered by AUC death squads directed by Drummond to protect the company’s rail line from guerilla groups.

The AUC has admitted that it used scorched-earth tactics and killed anyone “suspected” of being aligned with guerilla groups who happened to wander near Drummond’s facilities.

Drummond has long denied any association with the AUC...[and] initiated frivolous...suits against the lawyers who were attempting to bring Drummond to justice...

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Autor(a): Drummond

October 30, 2018

With respect to media reports that an investigation has been reopened in Colombia concerning certain of our current and former employees, Drummond Ltd. would like to provide the following information:

  • Drummond’s alleged involvement with the AUC has been exhaustively investigated by prosecutors in Colombia and by the courts in the United States, with all concluded cases and investigations resulting in favor of the Company and its employees.
  • Neither the Company nor its employees have been notified by Colombian authorities of the reported investigation, and have only been made aware of this situation by the media. 

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Autor(a): Gwynne Skinner, Robert McCorquodale, Olivier De Schutter & Andie Lambe

"第三大支柱: 讓跨國公司侵犯人權行為的受害者獲得司法救濟", 2013年2月

“獲得司法救濟項目”(A2JR)設立的目的是確認並分析美國、加拿大和歐洲在該領域存在的阻礙…在開發該報告過程中我們進行了詳盡的現狀分析,結論顯示國家普遍沒有承擔為企業境外侵權行為的受害者提供有效司法救濟的義務。受害者在尋求救濟時仍然面臨著眾多的阻礙,有時還出現尋求救濟的途徑被完全堵死的情況。雖然相關國家在立法、法庭程序、人權保護和法律傳統方面存在著差異,但在所有司法制度下都存在著阻礙受害者尋求救助的情況。在一些案例中,這些阻礙被成功地克服,其原因往往是:律師採用了全新的訴訟方案;受害者有足夠的耐心;有著敏銳洞察力的法官願意受理此類維權訴訟。國家必須制定強硬、一致的政策,重申受害者的人權重於企業的經濟利益。企業侵權人權行為的受害者,無論侵權行為在何地發生,都有權獲得全面、有效的司法救濟。為實現上述目標,每一個國家都應該審視司法制度中的存在障礙,並考慮採取行動加以消除,特別是考慮本報告提出的相關建議...

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Autor(a): Gwynne Skinner, Robert McCorquodale, Olivier De Schutter & Andie Lambe

"第三大支柱: 让跨国公司侵犯人权行为的受害者获得司法救济", 2013年2月

“获得司法救济项目”(A2JR)设立的目的是确认并分析美国、加拿大和欧洲在该领域存在的阻碍…在开发该报告过程中我们进行了详尽的现状分析,结论显示国家普遍没有承担为企业境外侵权行为的受害者提供有效司法救济的义务。受害者在寻求救济时仍然面临着众多的阻碍,有时还出现寻求救济的途径被完全堵死的情况。虽然相关国家在立法、法庭程序、人权保护和法律传统方面存在着差异,但在所有司法制度下都存在着阻碍受害者寻求救助的情况。在一些案例中,这些阻碍被成功地克服,其原因往往是:律师采用了全新的诉讼方案;受害者有足够的耐心;有着敏锐洞察力的法官愿意受理此类维权诉讼。国家必须制定强硬、一致的政策,重申受害者的人权重于企业的经济利益。企业侵权人权行为的受害者,无论侵权行为在何地发生,都有权获得全面、有效的司法救济。为实现上述目标,每一个国家都应该审视司法制度中的存在障碍,并考虑采取行动加以消除,特别是考虑本报告提出的相关建议...

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Artículo
26 July 2016

Colombia: Sindicatos denuncian a Drummond ante la OCDE por posibles violaciones del derecho a la salud de los mineros

Autor(a): Confederación General del Trabajo

"Demandada la multinacional del carbón Drummond por violaciones a los derechos humanos, laborales y de salud de sus trabajadores", 19 Jul 2016

A los trabajadores de las minas de carbón de la Drummond en el departamento del Cesar los están matando las enfermedades producidas por la explotación del carbón, la corrupción de algunas Administradoras de Riesgos Profesionales que se niegan a asumir sus responsabilidades y la permanente violación de los derechos humanos de los mineros por parte de la empresa. Esta gravísima situación laboral y de salud, ha llevado a que por primera vez en Colombia, los trabajadores de la empresa agrupados en el sindicato Sintradem y la Confederación General del Trabajo, CGT, [hayan] entablado una demanda contra la multinacional estadounidense Drummond ante el Punto Nacional de Contacto, PNC de la Organización para la Cooperación y el Desarrollo Económico, OCDE...

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Autor(a): Daniel Fisher, Forbes (USA)

The judge hearing [Drummond’s] defamation suit against an international labor-rights activist has issued a blistering ruling against the lawyer, accusing him of repeatedly lying about making payments to witnesses and possibly assisting them in committing perjury.  Collingsworth [sued] Drummond Coal over allegations the company collaborated with right-wing paramilitary officers to kill union officials…Those suits have all been dismissed, but Drummond fired back by suing Collingsworth for defamation.  The firm also accuses Dutch Oil company Llanos Oil in a separate suit of aiding in the conspiracy by paying one of the witnesses in Collingsworth’s case…U.S. District Judge…said he will allow Drummond to pierce the attorney-client privilege Collingsworth has used…[The judge] said there was ample evidence Collingsworth…had misled the court about their payments to witnesses…One of the most startling revelations to come out of the documents so far is that…one of the owners of Llanos Oil, paid a onetime Drummond contractor...right before [he] changed his testimony to implicate Drummond executives in the killing of two union officials…[T]he judge certified his order for an interlocutory appeal.  Collingsworth…said his lawyers will appeal this week…If the judge’s order stands, Drummond’s lawyers will issue more sweeping demands for communications between plaintiff lawyers and the witnesses…

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Autor(a): R. David Proctor, Judge for United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama Southern Division

In the face of what is now indisputable evidence, it is clear, and Collingsworth admits, that he made “security” payments to  multiple (at least six) witnesses in South America as part of his prosecution of lawsuits against Drummond Coal Company…Collingsworth only disclosed three such payments to the court and Drummond.  In fact, on multiple occasions he has given sworn testimony that there were only three witnesses paid…The court finds that the crime-fraud exception applies here, and that it operates to pierce the work product and attorney client privileges to the extent explained in this opinion, thus allowing Drummond…to furrow deeper into the hole of matters otherwise covered by the veil of privacy.  Moreover, because the crime-fraud exception applies here, Drummond is entitled to a second round of discovery…In accordance with the findings of this Memorandum Opinion: (1) the remaining portions of the Report and Recommendation of Special Master Regarding Certain Issues Relating to the Court’s Hearing on Plaintiff’s Motion for Sanctions…are ADOPTED and  APPROVED, to be implemented consistent with this Opinion; and (2) Drummond Company, Inc.’s Motions to Compel Answers to Deposition Questions…are GRANTED, to be implemented consistent with this Opinion…

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Autor(a): Emma Rosser, Colombia Reports

"Drummond executive arrested over paramilitary murder charges", 26 May 2015

A Colombian executive of US-based coal company Drummond...Alfredo Araujo, the former Head of Industrial Relations for the Alabama-based coal miners, has been charged with the murder of two trade union activists lowered from a bus and shot in 2001...Former paramilitary...claimed he took part in the murders as part of the Northern Block of the AUC [United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia] and that they were ordered in response to a planned strike that would generate a loss for the multinational company...In 2009, a civil lawsuit was filed in US courts against the company. However, the US Court of Appeals filed the case on March 25th claiming a lack of adequate information to bring the international claim to US courts. This case is now to be decided by Colombia’s Courts of Justice...Araujo, Blanco’s inside contact at Drummond, has been provided two lawyers by the company and proceedings are expected to begin within a week...

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