VANCOUVER — An upcoming decision from Canada’s top court on whether allegations of human rights abuses filed against a Vancouver mining company will go to trial in Canada could set a groundbreaking precedent, according to a human rights watchdog.
Four plaintiffs, all Eritrean refugees, allege the mining company — called Nevsun Resources Ltd. — is complicit in violations of international law norms against forced labour, slavery and torture stemming from the construction of an Eritrean mine. Sixty per cent of the venture is owned by Nevsun through subsidiaries, while the remainder is owned by Eritrean state companies.
Nevsun has wholly denied all allegations of human rights abuses at the Bisha gold mine, and argued Eritrean courts would be the appropriate place — known in legal terms as a “forum conveniens” — for the case to be heard.
The Supreme Court’s decision could have a significant impact on how Canadian companies operate overseas, said Karyn Keenan, director of Above Ground, a group that works to ensure that companies based in Canada or supported by the Canadian state respect human rights wherever they operate.
“It could be hugely precedent-setting,” Keenan said in an interview, adding, “or it could be not.” Because the alleged violations occurred abroad, said Keenan, a decision in favour of the plaintiffs could go two ways.
For the rest of this article: https://www.thestar.com/vancouver/2018/06/25/future-supreme-court-decision-on-vancouver-mining-companys-conduct-overseas-could-have-huge-impact-on-international-operations-says-expert.html