Friday 1 March 2013

Breakthrough Regarding Legal Liability of Canadian Mining Corporations for Abuses Overseas

Mayan plaintiffs head to court for first hearing after Hudbay concedes that lawsuits regarding alleged rapes and murder at its former mining project in Guatemala can be heard in Ontario

Toronto, Ontario - On March 4 and 5, 2013 an Ontario court judge will hear arguments regarding the preliminary legal issue of whether a Canadian mining company’s head office can be held legally accountable for human rights abuse committed at its subsidiary’s on-the-ground operations.
This is the first court hearing in the cases after Hudbay abruptly dropped its argument that the lawsuits should be heard in Guatemala.  Angelica Choc, the widow of murdered community leader Adolfo Ich Choc, has traveled from Guatemala to attend in person.

Hudbay continues to deny all responsibility for the rapes and shootings allegedly committed at its former mining project.   In this hearing, Hudbay is arguing that its head office simply does not owe a “duty of care” to Mayan families and subsistence farming communities harmed by its mining operations. 

“After repeatedly assuring the Canadian public that it respects human rights at its mine in Guatemala, Hudbay is now hiding behind its corporate structure to deny any possible responsibility” said Murray Klippenstein, lawyer for the Mayan Plaintiffs.

“If these rapes and shootings happened at Hudbay’s mine in Flin Flon, Manitoba, I can’t imagine that Hudbay would say it simply wasn’t head office’s problem. Canadians would never stand for it.  And they shouldn’t stand for it here.”

Amnesty International Canada has been granted intervener status as a “friend of the court” and will be arguing that Canadian companies are under an obligation to respect human rights wherever they operate, particularly where the business is operating in a conflict-affected or high risk area, and where the Indigenous peoples’ lives and livelihoods are at risk.  See Amnesty International’s public statement.

The hearing will be heard by the Superior Court of Justice in a courtroom in downtown Toronto on March 4 and 5, 2013.  A decision on these issues will be released in the following weeks. 

For more information: