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Lifesaver for ages 9 & up: Provide justice in Canada for people harmed by Canadian companies abroad

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 15:38

    Germán chub speaks about the impact a Canadian company has had on him

    © James Rodríguez www.mimundo.org

    Imagine finding out that your drinking water is polluted, the walls of your house have cracked, you are developing rashes on your legs or a neighbour has just been attacked. These are some of the impacts that communities abroad sometimes experience when Canadian companies start mining for gold, nickel, oil or other resources nearby.

    When people are hurt by the actions of Canadian companies operating in other countries, does the Canadian government help them find justice in Canada? The sad answer is that it does not.

    Germán Chub is a young man from the community of La Unión in eastern Guatemala. Germán (pronounced erMAN) loves watching soccer.

    One day in September 2009, he was watching a game when he heard a disturbance not far from the field. He walked in the direction of the noise.

    Residents say that private security guards from a nearby mine were trying to evict townspeople from the area. A crowd had gathered to protest.

    As Germán was watching the commotion, someone shot him. He is now paralyzed from the waist down and has lost the use of one of his lungs. Germán has paid a terrible price for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    Germán believes that it was the security guards who shot him. He has a right to find out who is responsible, and to see them brought to trial. Since the security guards worked for a mining operation owned by a Canadian company, he has filed a lawsuit in a Canadian court against the company.

    Germán is fortunate that his is the first ever case that a Canadian court has agreed to consider. Others who have been harmed by Canadian companies’ operations abroad haven’t had that opportunity. Sometimes this is because they don’t have enough money to travel to Canada for the court case. Sometimes the Canadian courts say that Canada isn’t the right place to consider the lawsuit. Too often, it means there is never any justice because the courts in their own country may refuse to hear their case, too.

    Amnesty International Canada believes that people who have been harmed by Canadian companies should be able to seek justice in Canada, even if the harms occurred in other countries. We think that Canada should be "Open for Justice" and not just "Open for Business".

    What can I do?

    Amnesty International members across Canada are busy this month asking their Members of Parliament to make it possible for Canadian courts to act on complaints about the behaviour of Canadian companies.

    Please add your voice! Contact your Member of Parliament.
    • Tell him or her a little bit about yourself.
    • Explain that you are concerned that people in other countries have a very hard time obtaining justice when they have been harmed by Canadian companies.
    • Ask your MP to help ensure that these people are able to seek justice in Canada.

    Where do I send my message?

    To find the name and contact information of your Member of Parliament, ask an adult or phone 1800-OCANADA. Or you can visit www.parl.gc.ca and put your postal code into the FIND search bar in the middle of the page.

    What else can I do?

    Send a greeting to Germán Chub. Tell him that his story has encouraged you to press Canada’s government to create opportunities for justice for people who have been hurt by the actions of Canadian companies operating in their countries. Germán will want to know who you are and from where you are writing. You could also tell him the name of your Member of Parliament and the date you wrote to your MP. Mail your message to Germán’s lawyer with an 85 cent stamp:

    Germán Chub c/o Cory Wanless, J.D.
    Klippensteins, Barristers & Solicitors
    300-160 John Street
    Toronto ON M5V 2E5

    Where can I find out more?

    Visit www.amnesty.ca/our-work/issues/business-and-human-rights

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    If you are not receiving the free monthly Lifesaver for ages 9 and up, and would like to be on the list, email urgentaction@amnesty.ca. In the subject line, write "Sign me up for Lifesavers".
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