The Justice and Global Issues Team need to help in ensuring that people harmed by the overseas operations of Canadian mining companies are able to access justice in Canada. We need an extractive-sector ombudsperson as well as access to Canadian courts.
Canada is home to more than half of the world’s mining companies, with active projects in more than 100 countries. These companies are often viewed as representative of Canada abroad, however human rights abuses, environmental damage, displacement and violations of basic labour rights are all too often associated with these projects.
Here are just three examples:
Burkina Faso: 16,000 residents were relocated by a Canadian company to make way for an open pit gold mine in Burkina Faso (West Africa). A human rights organization has reported that residents were relocated to areas without adequate sources of water or soil fertility. Approximate net revenues of Canadian owned gold mines in Burkina Faso in 2013 alone: US$277.3 million. This in one of the poorest countries in the world (UN report).
Guatemala: In 2013, 7 men and youth were peacefully protesting outside a Canadian silver mine in Guatemala, when they were shot and injured by private security of the company. To date there has been no justice for the victims in Guatemala or Canada, nor any repercussions against the company for ordering violence to silence a community defending its rights.
Philippines: The Cordillera Elders Assembly, meeting in Kalinga province (north Philippines) in 2011, agreed to oppose large scale mining on their ancestral territory under present political and militarized conditions. Their rallying cry: “Protect the land.”
There is no international system that currently governs resource extraction to protect human rights or the environment. In many countries where extractive companies operate, protections do not exist or are not enforced; multilateral institutions are often weak or inaccessible; and there are barriers to seeking justice in Canada.