BC’s Court of Appeal today gave the green light to hearing an important corporate accountability lawsuit against Nevsun Resources. The Court of Appeal ruling allows the 3 Eritrean men who filed the lawsuit against the company for modern slavery, torture, forced labour and crimes against humanity to have their day in court. Nevsun’s Bisha mine was constructed using state-contracted companies and the Eritrean military, which used forced labour under what the plaintiffs describe as abhorrent conditions. The men described hunger, illness and harsh punishment as some of the conditions they endured while building the mine.
Eritrea is known as one of the most repressive regimes in the world, with no working constitution, rule of law or independent judiciary. The lawsuit alleges that by entering into an agreement with the Eritrean regime, Nevsun expressly or implicitly supported the government’s widely-known – and greatly feared - conscription policy and therefore became an accomplice to forced labour, crimes against humanity and other human rights abuses at the Bisha mine.
“Our economy walks on the land and swims in the waters”
In a one-room, circular building, modelled on a traditional Secwepemc winter pit house, water defender Jacinda Mack stands before the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights and describes the effects of colonialism on her people, the Secwepemc of British Columbia. The consequences of more than 150 years of government assault on Indigenous identity and self-determination are personally exhausting, she says. However, her love of her people and the waters of her territory motivate her to keep fighting for justice.
On August 4th 2014, the tailings dam burst at Imperial Metals' Mount Polley Mine in central British Columbia, releasing a catastrophic 24 million cubic metres of mine waste into Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek, and Quesnel Lake - headwaters and spawning grounds of the Fraser River watershed.
As of July 1st 2017, no charges or fines have been issued, despite most of the waste still lying at the bottom of fish-bearing lakes. The Mount Polley Mine has returned to full-scale operations and is now permanently discharging more wastewater into Quesnel Lake, and relying on the lake to dilute the waste in order to meet BC water quality limits.
Mount Polley Mine pollution is a major concern for several reasons:
By Fiona Koza
Nevsun Resources has joined the ranks of Vancouver-based mining companies on trial for human rights abuses allegedly committed at overseas mines. Nevsun is accused of complicity in torture and slavery at its Bisha mine, a joint-venture with the government of Eritrea. Nevsun shareholders deserve to know about these extremely serious allegations, which is why several organizations including Amnesty International held a rally outside Nevsun Resource’s Annual General Meeting in Vancouver this morning.
The lawsuit against Nevsun claims that the plaintiffs in the case were subject to “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” while forced to work at the company’s Bisha mine, facing “long hours, malnutrition and forced confinement for little pay.” They allege they “worked under the constant threat of physical punishment, torture and imprisonment” and that Nevsun, by entering into a commercial relationship with the government of Eritrea, “became an accomplice to the use of forced labour, crimes against humanity and other human rights abuses.”
On May 9th, a provincial election will be held in British Columbia. Amnesty International is urging all candidates to make clear public commitments to closing crucial gaps in oversight, accountability, and service delivery that jeopardize the safety, health and well-being of many British Columbians and undermine human rights protection in the province.
We need your help! We're asking all our supporters in British Columbia to help us ensure that human rights are part of this election.
Here's how:1. Learn more
Amnesty International has issued an open letter to all candidates in this election outlining our concerns, including:
Some of the world’s largest companies are selling food and cosmetics containing palm oil that is tainted by shocking human rights abuses, including forced and child labour. Corporate giants, such as Nestlé , Kellogg’s, Colgate, Unilever and Procter & Gamble are turning a blind eye to the exploitation of workers in their palm oil supply chain. These companies reassure their customers that they are using “sustainable” palm oil, yet Amnesty’s research reveals that the palm oil is anything but.
These companies buy palm oil from plantations run by Wilmar in Indonesia. Amnesty has discovered severe labour abuses at Wilmar’s plantations, including unsafe working conditions, discrimination against women, unrealistic targets and penalties, and children doing hazardous work.
Write a lettter:
Contact the makers of Dove soap, KitKat chocolate bars, Knorr soup, Pantene shampoo, Gerber baby cereal, Colgate toothpaste, Palmolive dish soap and Magnum and Parlour ice cream and demand that they take responsibility for human rights abuses in their palm oil supply chain.
The chaos of BC’s mining regulatory system was laid bare.
Today, the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre released a new report commissioned by the Fair Mining Collaborative. Together, the two groups also issued a formal request to Premier Christy Clark and the Lieutenant Governor in Council asking the government to establish a Judicial Commission of Public Inquiry into improving BC's mining regulations.
These places may be dark forest trails that burst open into sunlit sandy beaches, tiny, hidden lakes, or rocky outcrops over-looking mighty rivers. Mine is a wide, sunny beach on the east coast of Vancouver Island. For Christine McLean, it’s a spot on her property in Mitchell Bay on Quesnel Lake, in central British Columbia.
Christine is a water defender from Alberta who, together with her husband, bought their dream retirement property on the pristine lake a few years ago. At the time, she had no idea what the future would hold: a mining disaster of previously unseen proportions in Canada in the hills above the lake. The Mount Polley tailings pond breach of August 4, 2014, sent 24 million cubic litres of water and toxic mine waste into surrounding waters and ultimately, into Quesnel Lake.
In a precedent-setting ruling for human rights defenders, British Columbia’s Court of Appeal has ruled that a lawsuit against Tahoe Resources for the violent repression of a peaceful protest in Guatemala in 2013 may advance in Canada. The decision is a victory for seven Guatemalan men who suffered multiple gunshot wounds when they were allegedly shot by company security forces while peacefully protesting outside the entrance to the Escobal silver mine.
“The ruling sends a clear message that Canadian companies operating abroad can and should be held accountable for allegations of human rights abuses in their operations overseas,” said Tara Scurr, Amnesty International Canada’s Business and Human Rights Campaigner. “For the first time in BC, a parent company will be called to answer for claims that human rights abuses were committed at one of its overseas operations. This is great news for corporate accountability in Canada”.
Thanks to the actions of thousands of Amnesty International supporters around the world, Apple, Samsung, Sony and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce are launching The Responsible Cobalt Initiative. The Initiative aims to improve the lives of children and adults who mine cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Ten months ago, Amnesty International research brought to light serious human rights abuses, including child labour, in cobalt mines in the DRC. Read more
Cobalt is used to power our cell phones, yet no cell phone companies were addressing the problem. So Amnesty International campaigned throughout the year for electronics companies including Samsung and Apple to take responsibility for human rights abuses in their supply chain. Thanks to the actions by human rights supporters, we are starting to see some progress. The Initiative is a welcome first step, but it is crucial that we see improvements on the ground.
Released 00:00 GMT on 30 September 2016
Every year, Canadians are encouraged to invest their savings in Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) purchased through their bank or credit union. Most mutual fund indices, even ethical funds, are a mix of companies and industries, including the oil, gas and mining sector. Unfortunately, Canada’s oil, gas and mining sector has been linked to human rights and environmental harms around the world.
But, many Canadians believe that their investments should not harm human rights or health. For this reason, many Canadians choose to not invest in funds which contain tobacco companies and weapons manufacturers. Now, Canadians are asking themselves whether investing in oil, gas or mining companies is harmful to the planet and to human rights and if they should continue to invest in such industries.
By Tara Scurr, Campaigner, Business and Human Rights
One year ago, Alex Neve and I were sitting in the Hotel Continental in Guatemala City, waiting for reporters to turn up for our press conference. We were about to launch a new Amnesty International report on mining and human rights. We’d been warned by our experienced Guatemalan media handler not to expect many reporters to show up. Imagine our delight when our press conference began and we saw that the room was packed with radio, print and TV reporters, NGOs, and human rights defenders from communities affected by mining. It was standing room only.
• Government refuses to investigate commodities giant Trafigura
• Authorities lack tools and resources to take action
• New laws and better resources needed to tackle corporate crime
In a startling admission UK authorities have informed Amnesty International that they do not have the tools, resources or expertise to investigate whether the multinational commodities giant Trafigura conspired to dump toxic waste in Côte d’Ivoire.
The statement came after Amnesty International presented a legal brief and 5,000 page dossier to UK authorities containing a raft of evidence that Trafigura’s London-based staff may have intentionally orchestrated the dumping of the waste in Côte d’Ivoire’s capital Abidjan in August 2006.
After the dumping more than 100,000 people sought medical attention. Côte d’Ivoire authorities reported at least 15 deaths.
“The fact that the UK authorities do not have the tools, expertise or resources to investigate the case is truly shocking. This is tantamount to giving multinational companies carte