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B.C. mining company seeks to stop Eritrean forced-labour lawsuit from being heard in Canada

TORONTO, Jan 26 (Reuters) – Nevsun Resources Ltd is appealing to Canada’s Supreme Court to throw out a lower court ruling which allowed Eritrean workers, who say they were forced to work at its mine, to have their lawsuit heard in

TORONTO, Jan 26 (Reuters) – Nevsun Resources Ltd is appealing to Canada’s Supreme Court to throw out a lower court ruling which allowed Eritrean workers, who say they were forced to work at its mine, to have their lawsuit heard in Canada.

Canada’s top court said on Friday that Nevsun filed an application on Jan. 19, seeking permission to appeal a British Columbia court ruling in November, which confirmed the case could proceed in the western Canadian province.

The Supreme Court can grant or deny such applications and there is no fixed time for a decision.

Nevsun confirmed its appeal, but said it would not otherwise comment.

In the application, Nevsun said that it was inappropriate for a British Columbia judge the legality of a sovereign state’s conduct, calling it an issue of national importance for Canada.

Nevsun said the B.C. ruling was “out of step” with international consensus and common law courts that do not recognize damage claims based on breaches of international law.

A Supreme Court ruling could shield Nevsun from similar actions by 59 other Eritrean nationals, it said, and avoid the case devolving into a “complicated, difficult and expensive inquiry into the lawfulness of the acts of the State of Eritrea within its own territory.”

Nevsun previously argued the case should be dismissed and any lawsuit should be heard in Eritrea, not Canada.

The case is closely watched by Canadian miners operating abroad because its outcome could increase litigation risk.

Canadian courts have agreed to hear lawsuits against Tahoe Resources by Guatemalans who say they were shot by the miner’s security and against HudBay Minerals by Guatemalans who say they were gang raped and shot by security forces.

If Nevsun loses at trial, the Vancouver-based company could potentially be forced to pay compensation for “severe physical and mental pain and suffering.”

In affidavits, six men, who have since left Eritrea, said they were forced to work at Nevsun’s Bisha from 2008 to 2012, enduring harsh conditions, including hunger, illness and physical punishment at the hands of military commanders.

They said they were conscripts in a national service system, working not for Nevsun directly but for government-owned construction firms subcontracted to build the mine.

Nevsun says its mine is a model development. In legal filings, it said the Eritrean military never provided labor to the mine. Even if it did, Nevsun argues it was not directly responsible for employing the workers.


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  • rezen January 29, 2018

    Please add the following as a footnote to the above article:

    (1) “Tyrant’s Interview Failed to Meet the Audience Expectation for Lack of Focus on the People’s Problems”, January 19, 2018 “

  • meretse January 29, 2018

    Hi all,
    Appeal to Eritrean inteleectuals of the Highest Ordsr, who are lucky enough, like all of us, to be away from Eritrea the pugatory …..
    Dear rezen, I am not really sure if they deserve this kind of an honest appeal. Like everyone of us these guys had been watching closely the agony of the nation had chosen silence. For me, either they are cowards or oppertunists (excuse my language) or they are not different from those naive followers who believe Issayas is an inspired person, with some special relationship with God who could not make any mistakes. If there is some crisis, it should a plot of Wayne or America, but nothing to do with him, because Issayas he is always right. Nationalists of the old and younger generation (of course that includes the PhD holders), are with him because they think he is against Wayne’s and USA agression. The justice seekers feel sorry for not having the slightest charisma. If they believe this is untrue, they should PROVE IT.
    My second comment has got to do with your last appeal to the web visitors: many of us were/are surprised by the invasion of “Winkie Chants.” Winkie guards or foot soldiers of the East African Wizard had been singing their luric “Oh Er-Yah! Er-Oh-Ah!……. meaningless majical sound. Assenna has guidelines and it should be respected by all vistors otherwise the guidelines would mean nothing and the winkies will never stop from playing thier the meaningless music. Lastly, I admire the courage of some brothers and sisters such as: K. Tewolde, b, Danilo, Simon, PH, and the rest.

    • Simon G January 30, 2018

      Hi Meretse,
      I am no means against intellectualls but I have no respects to most of our PhD (I used to have a boss who calls them “people with head dead”) holders. There are few exceptions (like Prof Araya, Prof Bereket, to mention few), of course. ሰብ ባጀላ ረቢሾምና ድዩ ዝበለ ሃይለ ገብረትንሳኤ the great, ዘብሄረ ሰራይ ሓቀይ?
      BTW, I see people with BS or less doing great things (should I mention Bill G, Steve J., Mark Z., etc…)
      Our PhD holders have very poor track of records in humanity, bravery, and ethics. They are cowards, to say the least. How is that a sane person, let alone with PhD, can still support the worst cruel dictator in East Africa?
      They are acting the same, if not less than ጨጓር ዳንጋ.
      Whether they are silent or HGDF supporters, I gave up on them. ክብ ምህሮስ ኣእምሮ ዝብሉ ከምዚ ምስረኸቡ ዮም ኣቦታትና
      NB: I am not against intellectuals. A country without educated people is nothing but a Sh**hole, just to borrow a word from my friend Trump.