Canadian mining company going on trial for alleged gang rapes in Guatemala
Published Wednesday, December 20, 2017 11:50AM EST
A lawyer poised to represent 11 Guatemalan women in a Canadian court says his clients are eager to “tell their story” in their lawsuit against HudBay Minerals Inc., the Toronto-based mining company named in an alleged 2007 gang rape in Guatemala.
The women allege they were gang-raped by police, military and security personnel in 2007, during a forced eviction from their village in relation to the Fenix mining project, which at the time was run by Skye Resources. Skye was taken over by HudBay in 2008.
HudBay has said it did not own Skye at the time of the alleged incident, but the case is nevertheless being allowed to go forward following a ruling by the Ontario Superior Court in 2013.
The women’s lawyer, Murray Klippenstein, says it’ll be the first time a Canadian mining company is taken to court on home soil for an alleged incident in another country.
“The women think they will get no justice in Guatemala because of the corruption in the legal system,” Klippenstein told CTV’s Your Morning on Wednesday. He argues that, because HudBay “took over Skye’s resources.” They should not be absolved of responsibility.
HudBay has defended itself against the accusations, saying that the women were “members of a group illegally occupying company property,” and that prosecutor and police reports show the evictions were carried out “peacefully.”
They also say a financial compensation package was worked out for those evicted from their homes a few days later, and that “the negotiations were cordial and no allegations of physical violence or assaults of any kind during the evictions were raised.”
Klippenstein said it’s extremely unusual to bring a case such as this to Canada, especially on behalf of a group of rural Guatemalan women.
Klippenstein and HudBay’s lawyers met with the women in Toronto last month for a pre-trial examination, during which he says they were “very strong” in telling their stories.
“They had to describe their personal experiences in great excruciating detail,” he said.
None of the allegations have been tested in court.