Skip to content

Eritreans Call Multinationals to Account

Canada’s Supreme Court ruled that a ­Vancouver-based mining firm can be sued in a Canadian court for alleged complicity in human rights abuses overseas — a decision that could alter the way businesses here assess the risks of operating abroad. The case brought by three Eritrean refugees against Nevsun Resources was closely watched, particularly by Canada’s extractive sector. The Eritreans claim that Nevsun breached international laws against forced labour, slavery and crimes against humanity at its Bisha mine in the East African country. They say they were conscripted indefinitely through Eritrea’s military service to provide forced labour at the gold, copper and zinc mine that is one of the largest sources of revenue for that country’s economy. Canadian courts have been hesitant to consider such cases, opting instead to punt them to the jurisdictions where the violations were alleged to have occurred.