Washington, D.C. hearing spotlights the Canadian government’s failure to prevent harm and ensure justice for mining-affected communities abroad

28 October 2014

For Immediate Release (28 October 2014)

(Ottawa/Washington) The Canadian government is failing to meet its international obligations to prevent and to provide recourse for harms related to Canadian mining operations in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to a new report by the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability (CNCA) presented today to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Washington D.C.

“Canada has a very strong presence in the globalized mining industry with almost 1,500 projects in the region, and we’re aware of a great deal of conflict,” said Shin Imai, lawyer with the Justice and Corporate Accountability Project (JCAP), who presented before the Commission. “Our preliminary count shows that at least 50 people have been killed and some 300 wounded in connection with mining conflicts involving Canadian companies in recent years, for which there has been little to no accountability.”

“Despite the abuses and growing number of communities saying no to large scale mining in defense of their lands and wellbeing, the Canadian government staunchly and irresponsibly defends Canadian companies through embassies, development aid and numerous other means,” remarked Jen Moore from MiningWatch Canada, who also spoke today.

For more than a decade, UN experts and treaty bodies have echoed calls from civil society groups in the CNCA and internationally that the Canadian government assume its obligations to respect Indigenous and human rights. Canada has been urged to take measures to prevent harm and to provide access to justice for communities affected by Canadian extractive companies’ operations abroad.

Contacts

  • Ian Thomson, Coordinator, Canadian Network for Corporate Accountability, ithomson(at)kairoscanada.org, tel. 613-235-9956 ext. 222
  • Jen Moore, Latin America Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada, jen(at)miningwatch.ca, +1 (613) 722-0412 (English or Spanish)
  • Shin Imai, Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University and a director of the Justice and Corporate Accountability Project (JCAP), simai(at)justice-project.org, +1 (647) 524-2312 (English or Spanish)

Background

Formed in 2005, the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability (CNCA) brings together 29 human rights, environmental, labour, religious and social justice organizations that are advocating for law reform in Canada to hold Canadian companies and the Canadian state accountable for human rights and environmental harms committed abroad.

Today’s report calls for the adoption of two law reforms identified in the CNCA’s ‘Open for Justice’ campaign: legislated access to Canadian courts for those who have been harmed by Canadian mining companies abroad; and an independent ombudsman office to investigate complaints and recommend remedial action where necessary.

The report also calls on the Canadian government to take measures to prevent further harm including, among others, an end to the practice of directing overseas development aid and diplomatic services toward the promotion of large-scale mineral extraction overseas.

Last year, civil society groups from Latin America presented a report to the IACHR about systematic Indigenous and human rights violations against mining-affected communities. They profiled 22 case studies involving Canadian companies that receive support from the Canadian state and observed a troubling pattern of abuse.

A copy of the CNCA report is available here:

http://cnca-rcrce.ca