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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Vancouver court clears way for slave labour lawsuit against Canadian mining company to go to trial

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Vancouver court clears way for slave labour lawsuit against Canadian mining company to go to trial Vancouver, October 6, 2016. The Supreme Court of British Columbia today rejected efforts by Vancouver-based Nevsun Resources Limited (TSX: NSU


Vancouver court clears way for slave labour lawsuit against Canadian mining company to go to trial

Vancouver, October 6, 2016. The Supreme Court of British Columbia today rejected efforts by Vancouver-based Nevsun Resources Limited (TSX: NSU / NYSE MKT: NSU) to dismiss a lawsuit brought by three Eritrean men who allege they were forced to work at Nevsun’s Bisha Mine.

This marks the first time that a mass tort claim for modern slavery will go forward in a Canadian court, and the first time a case against a mining company for alleged abuses in overseas operations has been allowed to proceed in British Columbia.

Mr. Justice Patrice Abrioux rejected Nevsun’s position that the case should be dismissed in Canada and instead heard in Eritrea. Justice Abrioux ruled, “There is sufficient cogent evidence from which I can conclude that there is a real risk that the plaintiffs could not be provided with justice in Eritrea.” Justice Abrioux continued, “This is particularly the case if they then chose to commence legal proceedings in which they … call into question the actions of a commercial enterprise which is the primary economic generator in one of the poorest countries in the world.”

In prevailing on this issue, the plaintiffs overcame an argument that has permitted other companies accused of abuses to have Canadian cases dismissed in favour of foreign courts.

In another groundbreaking decision, Justice Abrioux determined that claims of crimes against humanity, slavery, forced labour and torture can go forward against Nevsun. It is the first time that a Canadian court has recognized that a corporation can be taken to trial for alleged violations of customary international law.

“Today’s historic judgment allows the case to move forward to a trial on the merits,” said Joe Fiorante, Q.C., of Camp Fiorante Matthews Mogerman, lead counsel for the plaintiffs. “We now intend to use the court’s discovery processes to conduct an exhaustive investigation into the truth of what Nevsun really knew about the human rights situation at the mine.”

The lawsuit filed in November 2014 alleges that Nevsun engaged two Eritrean state-run contractors and the Eritrean military to build the mine’s facilities and that the companies and military deployed forced labour under abhorrent conditions.

In the judgment, Justice Abrioux cited to the conclusions of a recent United Nations Commission of Inquiry into the human rights situation in Eritrea. In June 2016, the commission found that the Eritrean government has been responsible for crimes against humanity, including its nationwide system of indefinite conscription, for twenty-five years. The commission concluded that the government of Eritrea employs “totalitarian practices” and that “[e]nslavement has been committed on an on-going, large-scale and methodical basis.”

“Nevsun’s Corporate Social Responsibility policy says that the company is unequivocally committed to responsible practices at the Bisha Mine, based on international standards of human rights,” said James Yap, a member of the plaintiffs’ legal team. “The Eritreans forced to work there will now have the opportunity to test that position in a court of law.”

With this ruling, there are now cases advancing in multiple Canadian jurisdictions against companies accused of responsibility for severe human rights abuses. Three lawsuits in Ontario alleging that Hudbay Minerals is liable for killing and gang rapes in Guatemala are also moving toward trial.

“Canadian courts appear to be increasingly open to survivors of abuses linked to the operations of mining companies abroad,” said Matt Eisenbrandt, Legal Director of the Canadian Centre for International Justice and a member of the plaintiffs’ legal team. “Survivors want Canadian companies held accountable in Canada, and today’s judgment is an important step toward making that a reality.”

The claimants are supported in Canada by a legal team comprised of Vancouver law firm Camp Fiorante Matthews Mogerman (CFM), Ontario law firm Siskinds LLP, Toronto lawyer James Yap, and the Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ).


For general comment:

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Review overview
  • k.tewolde October 7, 2016

    To be honest with you this is not a few conscripts or a certain group issue,it should be a class action suit of the oppressed Eritrean people vs the brutal,oppressive,blood sucking regime in Asmara and the mining companies that are exhuming our dead,contaminating our pristine environment and robing us in broad daylight with no corporate accountability.Lets hire a cut throat,prominent international law firm and go after these hoodlums,then again,in order to do this,we should be in the same page.

    • k.tewolde October 7, 2016

      continuation – this doesn’t mean to discount the effort that being done by some good people but ,if we cannot fight our enemies with live ammo,at least lets fight them smart,lets fight them together,lets fight them with one voice,the one elusive ingredient that is missing in our quest for justice,we can do it if we mean it,great weekend fellow brothers and sisters around the world.

  • Z. Hagos October 7, 2016

    Those Eritrean youth who suffered slavery at home and who are free human beings now outside Eritrea should be encouraged to sue the regime, the regime supporters, and the corporations that are funding the regime in carrying out slavery in Eritrea. The tyrannical regime has imposed poverty and denied freedom in order to enslave our youth. Since the regime is using poverty and denial of freedom as tools to enslave our people, both should be condemned by the UN. I mean, the UN should be involved immediately.
    Because our youth are forced by the tyrant to serve as slaves in corporations that support slavery, the corporations should not go unpunished for what they are doing in Eritrea. The supporters of the tyrant are disgracing our revolution and culture by supporting slavery in Eritrea. These supporters of the tyrant will not understand what slavery is unless the slavery is tried on them and they taste its horrible pains. Our youth have thousands of horrible stories to tell about the pains of slavery and the world started to listen angrily, condemning the regime and ready to support class action against the regime.

    • zeray October 8, 2016

      It seems that the Warsai generation or those Eritrean youth who suffered at home as you put it happens to love Europe, USA, Canada, Australia more than they hate the system of evil-ghedli Eritrea therefore you barking from or of the wrong tree.
      There is no way that one could glamorize the pain of one’s own people without at the same time disowning those very people. And the entire history of the Eritrean evil-alien-loving revolution, both before and after independence (slavery), can be chronicled as the evil-ghedli generation’s tireless effort to “disown” not only their fathers’ heritage but also any population group associated with it so as to be proud owners of the regal disease. This, in turn, requires that Eritreanism be measured by its native but by its evil alien components – a prime example of that would be the evil savage barbarian moslem Jebha and its undertakings.
      Characteristic of the Eritrean malady, confusing the land for the nation, they and you in particular, fail to see that with the mass exodus of the Eritrean youth, it is “Eritrea” that is “moving out” leaving the land empty to the evil savage barbarian moslem Arabs and to their backward savage 7th century sha’ria laws of Islam.

      • AHMED SALEH !!! October 8, 2016

        Mr. hundred pen names , NO WORTHY TO RESPOND .

      • k.tewolde October 8, 2016

        Zeray stop hiding behind the smoke screen of the old feudo-imperial propaganda in order to confuse the already confused young,Eritrea has seceded,done,history.You can’t undo what was done,you can try.This bleeding out of the youth as you call it ‘moving out’ ,you trying to give it a religious undertone by going as far as blaming Jebha, let me teach you something slick,the warsay generation doesn’t even know who Jebha is except for what was recited to them in their formative years.That said, can please leave us alone to sort out our own problems.

  • Alem October 8, 2016

    Do not waste ur time. Most eritreans are way beyond that. I hate to say that u hate your life and ur self.. Am I write? Try to love ur self first. If u are able to do that then u will love our Muslim brothers. Take care

  • Z. Hagos October 8, 2016

    Sometimes people say it is better forced labor than starvation. The point talked about, here, is not to be starved and be homeless. But we see under Isayas’s rule, the youth have been conscripted for life. Not only that, Isayas has put unbreakable limitation on eating – that means, even those who get money support from outside cannot eat enough. Therefore, the limitation on eating along with the limitation on free movement and limitation on free expression made the slavery in Eritrea the worst in history.
    To break the tight slavery rules in Eritrea, the youth have to confront the tyrant with demands to lift the limitation on everything peacefully. If Isayas refuses to accept the demands, the youth have to demand his resignation. And, if Isayas refuses to peacefully resign, the people have to take their case to the streets. What follows then, must be wisely handled by the people including calling the army to intervene for immediate action – like putting Isayas in a container prison.