With files from Emily Lazatin and Jeremy Lye
Three African refugees alleging human rights abuses by Vancouver-based mining company have been given the go-ahead to sue Nevsun in BC Supreme Court.
The lawyer representing them, Joe Fiorante, says the Court’s decision to hear the civil lawsuit sets the stage for other cases of its kind.
“It certainly paves the way for one the first cases of its kind, as far as we’re aware this is the first mass case that has alleged basically the use of modern slavery to build a Canadian owned mine.”
Fiorante says it’s been very difficult for foreigners to get access to the Canadian legal system.
“It’s certainly our intention to shed some light on what actually took place.”
The workers say they were forced to work against their will, work long hours, and paid 20 to 30 dollars a month.
In a statement to CKNW, Nevsun says it’s confident it operates the Bisha Mine according to international standards of governance, workplace conditions, health, safety and human rights.
Nevsun is studying the court’s decision and considering an appeal of the decision that the action can proceed at all.
None of the allegations has been proven in court.
A person on the worker’s legal team says allegations of human rights abuses in foreign countries by local mining companies is nothing new.
Matt Eisenbrandt says other serious allegations are being made about other Canadian mining companies all over the world.
“(One) company actually transported, flew in, troops in the DRC – The Democratic Republic of Congo – who were involved in a massacre.”
He says the civil lawsuit is a step forward for those who have experienced inhumane or degrading treatment.