Human-rights groups decry rising trend of corporate SLAPP lawsuits – by Geoffrey York and Tavia Grant (Globe and Mail – February 13, 2024)

When a Canadian mining company filed a lawsuit against a small African human-rights group, the company said it was merely seeking to get errors corrected. The African group disagreed, calling the suit an attempt to bully and silence it.

They settled out of court last year, but two United Nations experts took notice. Last month, the UN rapporteurs released a letter they had sent to the company, First Quantum Minerals Ltd. FM-T, asking it to explain its actions.

“Without prejudging the accuracy of these allegations, we express our deep concern regarding the alleged acts of intimidation and criminalization of human-rights defenders,” wrote Mary Lawlor and Damilola Olawuyi, who serve as independent experts to monitor human rights for the UN.

The First Quantum case is one of a growing number of lawsuits by corporations against human-rights activists and other critics – often categorized as “strategic lawsuits against public participation,” or SLAPPs. Mining companies and other resource corporations, including Canadian companies, have been among the most likely to file such lawsuits.

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