Canadian Diplomats Under Scrutiny in Anti-Mining Activist’s Death – by James Munson (Bloomberg News – May 21, 2018)

What are the responsibilities of diplomatic staff when they know an environmental activist is in danger overseas?

That’s what a judicial review in Canada is trying to determine in its investigation into the death of environmental activist Mariano Abarca, who was shot and killed Nov. 27, 2009, outside a restaurant in Chicomuselo, Chiapas, in southern Mexico.

Abarca was a vocal opponent of the Payback mine outside the mountain community of Chicomuselo in the Mexican state of Chiapas, where the now-defunct Blackfire Exploration Ltd. mined for barite, a mineral used in oil and gas drilling. He criticized the mine’s environmental effects and led a regional network of communities affected by mines.

Lawyers representing several Mexican and Canadian environmental and human rights organizations, as well as Abarca’s family, filed a notice of application in Federal Court May 16 that seeks to overturn the findings of a government office that said Canadian embassy officials in Mexico City did nothing wrong in the months leading up to Abarca’s murder.

Those appellants in the judicial review claim diplomats in Mexico City should have acted with greater urgency because several federal government policies warranted strong action if they knew an activist’s life was in danger.

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