IHRP to intervene in Canada Supreme Court case on corporate accountability

Monday, January 21, 2019

On January 23, 2019, the International Human Rights Program, represented by alumnus Cory Wanless of Waddell Phillips PC (JD 2008), Professor Audrey Macklin, and research associate Yolanda Song (JD 2017), will intervene in an important corporate accountability case before the Supreme Court of Canada. In Nevsun Resources v. Araya et al (SCC Case No. 37919), a group of Eritrean refugees are bringing a claim for damages against Vancouver-based mining company Nevsun Resources Ltd. The plaintiffs claim that Nevsun worked with the Eritrean government and military to develop the Bisha Mine in Eritrea, and was complicit in systematic human rights abuses that took place there, including slavery, torture, and forced labour.

Nevsun has challenged the ability of Canadian courts to rule on these alleged human rights violations, which it attributes to the Eritrean state. This is the first time in Canada that this defence – called the “act of state” doctrine – will be considered directly by the courts. The IHRP argues that Canadian corporations that cooperate with foreign governments to commit human rights violations in the name of profit should not be immune to legal responsibility for their actions.

Nevsun is also seeking to strike out claims advanced by the plaintiffs that are informed by and based in customary international law.

Other interveners include EarthRights International together with the Global Justice Clinic at New York University School of Law; MiningWatch Canada; Amnesty International Canada together with the International Commission of Jurists; and the Mining Association of Canada.

Read the IHRP’s factum here.

Read the factums of all parties and interveners here.

Watch the SCC Webcast here.

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