Supreme Court to rule on whether mining company can be sued over acts in Africa
Workers are shown smelting gold at the Bisha mine in Eritrea in this undated photo.
OTTAWA -- The Supreme Court of Canada is set to decide whether a human-rights lawsuit against a Canadian mining company can be heard in British Columbia, even though it involves events in Africa.
The high court is slated to rule today on an appeal by B.C.-based Nevsun Resources, which argues the claim should not proceed because Canadian courts cannot decide the legality of acts by foreign states.
Refugees from Eritrea allege they were forced to work at a gold mine controlled by subsidiaries of Nevsun and Eritrean state companies.
They contend construction of the mine flouted international legal provisions against forced labour, slavery and torture -- accusations that have not been tested in court.
Nevsun denies that the company or a subsidiary enlisted the Eritrean military to build the mine or supply labour, and says the refugees behind the court action were not mistreated.
B.C. courts dismissed Nevsun's attempts to make Eritrea the forum for any lawsuit proceedings.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2020.