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ICAR Anvil Mining Statement

ICAR Anvil Mining Statement

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Published by: accountabilityrdtble on Mar 09, 2012
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 March 9th, 2012Washington D.C.The International Corporate Accountability Roundtable is a coalition of 15 leading human rightsorganizations working to identify and promote robust frameworks for corporate accountability,strengthen current measures and defend existing laws, policies and legal precedents. We issue thisstatement expressing our disappointment and concern about the decision made by the Quebec Court of Appeal on January 24
, 2012
to overturn the lower court’s findings in the case against Anvil MiningLimited (“Anvil Mining”).
In November of 2010, the Canadian Association Against Impunity (CAAI) filed a class action against AnvilMining for its alleged involvement in a 2004 massacre near its mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo
(DRC). Anvil Mining is incorporated in Canada’s Northwest Territories, listed on the Toronto Stock
Exchange and operates from an office in Quebec; it also has offices in Australia, South Africa and theDRC. The company is accused of providing logistical support to the Congolese military to help themcounter an attempt by a small armed rebel group to take over the town of Kilwa, a key port for Anvil
Mining’s operatio
ns. Congolese military forces, sent to defeat the rebels, were implicated in the killing,rape and torture of civilians in Kilwa. More than 70 civilians were killed, including at least 28 who weresummarily executed.When the case was before the Quebec Superior Court, Judge Benoit Emery ruled that no viable channelsexisted for the Congolese victims and families to seek justice, and that although Anvil Mining
’s head
office at the time of the incident was in Perth, Australia, sufficient links existed to establish jurisdictionin Quebec. The Quebec Court of Appeal, in overturning this decision, found that the requirements of the
Quebec Civil Code
(Art. 3148(2)) had not been met with respect to jurisdiction. This finding
contradicted those in the lower court, which held that the principal, if not sole activity, of Anvil Mining’s
Quebec office was the management of the Congo mine, that the role of its Montreal-based VicePresident of Corporate Affairs was necessarily linked to the exploitation of the mine in the DRC, and thatno other viable forum for the survivors of the Kilwa Massacre to seek justice existed.
The survivors have already tried
and ultimately failed
to obtain justice in other jurisdictions. Adeeply flawed military trial conducted in Congo acquitted all defendants. No further domestic legalremedies are available. In Australia, preliminary efforts to obtain disclosure prior to starting a lawsuithad to be abandoned w
hen the Congolese authorities refused to allow the victims’ legal representatives
to travel to Kilwa to confirm instructions. The Congolese lawyers received death threats and theAustralian law firm withdrew. Given the circumstances, no other law firm was willing to take on thecase.Having now invested their hope, time and meagre resources to launch a case in Canada with the help of their advocates, the villagers of Kilwa are not in a position to start over again. This is especially trueconsidering that another obstacle is looming for the plaintiffs: in February 2012 Anvil Mining wasacquired by MMG Malachite, a Chinese company, and wholly owned subsidiary of the Hong Kong listedMinMetals Resources Limited.As Amnesty International stated in a recent release on this case:
“Courts have a vital role to play in bridging the existing accountability gaps. When home
state courts close their doors to foreign victims of corporate human rights abuses they may end all realistic avenues for them to seek reparation. In cases of alleged humanrights abuses, decisions on jurisdiction must be informed first and foremost by humanrights considerations; in particular the extent to which claimants stand a realistic chanceof accessing justice and obtaining adequate reparation in other forums. If theseelements have no place in the balancing exercise that a judge conducts to assess jurisdiction, it is no surprise that alternative forums, found to be adequate, blatantly fail to provide victims of corporate human rights abuses with access to justice and 
reparation in practice.” 
This decision by the Quebec Court of Appeals closes an important avenue for redress for victims. Thisavenue is needed to ensure that human rights are protected and that business actors are heldaccountable for their impacts. We understand that the victims in this case will seek vindication of theirrights at the Supreme Court of Canada, and we express our support for their efforts to find justice.Sincerely,Amol MehraCoordinatorInternational Corporate Accountability RoundtableSeema JoshiHead of Business and Human RightsAmnesty International

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