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Catherine Savard

Offre d’emploi – Chargé.e de projets en justice internationale

By | News

26 février 2019 – Le Partenariat canadien pour la justice internationale, la Chaire de recherche sur la justice internationale pénale et les droits fondamentaux et la Clinique de droit international pénal et humanitaire s’associent pour offrir deux postes occasionnels de chargé.e de projets (auxiliaires de recherche) à temps plein, basés à l’Université Laval, du 6 mai au 1er septembre 2019.

Les chargé.e.s de projets assisteront les équipes de coordination de la Clinique, de la Chaire et du Partenariat durant 16 semaines à raison de 35 heures par semaine. Ils ou elles devront : gérer les communications (sites web et médias sociaux); collecter des données sur les activités de partenaires; rédiger des rapports sur l’état des connaissances et des activités; planifier et organiser des conférences et d’autres types d’événements similaires; mener des recherches et rédiger des documents en droit international pénal, humanitaire et des droits de la personne; assister les responsables dans la préparation de leurs activités de supervision; produire divers documents de vulgarisation, d’information et de reddition de compte.

Postulez avant le 4 mars 2019 sur le site du Service de placement de l’Université Laval (Offre 292428 – Auxiliaire de recherche – Chargé de projets – Justice internationale).

Student Projects: Funding Available

By | Funding Opportunities, News

Student training is important for the Canadian Partnership for International Justice (CPIJ). This is why CPIJ notably funds students to take part each year in the Assembly of State Parties to the International Criminal Court, the Canadian Council on International Law’s Annual Conference, the ICC Moot Court Competition, and many other educational activities and events.

CPIJ encourages student initiatives and may support them financially. Students may apply to CPIJ to, for example, take part in a summer school, participate in a law-related competition, attend a conference or be involved in any other professional activity related to CPIJ’s mandate. The students selected for funding then become members of CPIJ’s student group.

Admissibility requirements

A request is prepared by the student. To be presented to the Scholarship and Student Funding Committee for its consideration, the following conditions of admissibility must be met:

  • The request is presented by a student in international law or in a field related to CPIJ’s Research Program;
  • The request is sufficiently documented to allow the Scholarship and Student Funding Committee to appreciate its nature and importance for the student;
  • The request must include a detailed project plan and, if possible, the event’s agenda, registration confirmation, and an estimate of the admissible expenses;
  • The request must explain: the student’s link to CPIJ; the link between the project and CPIJ’s Research Program; the nature of the project and the expected learning outcomes; the relevance of the project with respect to the student’s development and goals; and the amount and purpose of any funding previously received from CPIJ.

Funding requirements

Those students selected for funding must comply with the following requirements:

  • The student must provide consent, unless an exception is justified, for CPIJ’s use and dissemination of the student’s texts, pictures and other outcomes of the project, with acknowledgement.
  • The student must respect the rules and regulations of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), CPIJ’s funding organization. For example, these rules do not permit funded individuals to be compensated for blogposts or other forms of publication.
  • The student will acknowledge CPIJ and SSHRC’s financial support in blogposts and other relevant fora.
  • The student must write a minimum of one 1000 to 1500-word blogpost, which will be published on any of the following platforms, at the choice of the student: Quid JustitiæIntLawGrrlsJustice in Conflict or the Philip Kirsch Institute’s Global Justice Journal. The blogpost shall comply with the rules related to the chosen platform. The post shall be written before, during, or within a reasonable time after, the project completion.

The following expenses are admissible:[1]

  • Transportation (e.g. plane, train or bus ticket, gasoline receipts);
  • Accommodation;
  • Meals;
  • Registration for the event.

 Selection criteria

In choosing which projects to fund, the Scholarship and Student Funding Committee will consider the:

  • Link between the project and CPIJ’s Research Program;
  • Nature of the project and the expected learning outcome;
  • Relevance of the project with respect to the student’s training development and goals;
  • Link between the student(s) and CPIJ; and
  • Amount and purpose of any funding previously asked for and received from CPIJ.

How to apply?

To request funding, students shall fill the following form.

The Scholarship and Student Funding Committee meets four times per year to review and select projects for funding. the committee meets on 1 November, 1 February, 1 April, and 1 August.

Results are announced within one month following the Committee’s meeting. It is possible to submit a request at any moment throughout the year, but applicants should have these dates in mind to know the processing time of their request.

If funding is granted, the Partnership will provide the approved funding once the student is confirmed as attending the event (a registration confirmation can be required) and after ensuring that the expenses claimed are admissible. The Committee may approve the full, or a portion, of the amount requested. The approved amount may be paid in full or in instalments.

[1] An expense is admissible when it complies with the administrative requirements of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and of CPIJ’s host institution, Université Laval (www.sf.ulaval.ca). CPIJ could refuse to reimburse an expense that is not admissible or that subsequently becomes inadmissible after CPIJ initially accepted to fund the project. It is the student’s responsibility to verify the admissibility of the expenses. It is strongly encouraged to have all planned expenses pre-approved by CPIJ. Additional information can be provided on demand.

18th Assembly of State Parties to the International Criminal Court: Call for applications

By | News, Student News, Upcoming Events

Each year between 2016 and 2021, the Canadian Partnership for International Justice (CPIJ) sets up and funds a delegation of Canadian students, headed by academics and practitioners from various academic institutions and NGOs, to attend the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the International Criminal Court (ICC). This major event takes place in The Hague or in New York at the end of each year.

Through this activity, CPIJ trains a cohort of students who are educated, engaged and networked in international and transnational law. The Partnership also aims at training and educating diverse Canadian audiences about the challenges, pitfalls and potential of the system of international justice, and about the priorities to improve the system. Through its action, CPIJ also enhances Canada’s role as a global leader in the fight against impunity.

The 18th ICC ASP will take place from 2 to 7 December 2019. The training of the delegation for this ASP will be spread out throughout the year until the event. The recruited students may have to:

  • report on the ASP, its side-events and on Canada’s participation as a State Party with respect to various themes (such as sexual and gender-based crimes, complementarity, cooperation, elections, budget, etc.);
  • tweet and live tweet;
  • organize conferences or events at their institution;
  • write short papers and blog posts;
  • support the Partnership’s partners in implementing their ASP programs;
  • connect with professionals working in international criminal law;
  • visit relevant international institutions.

Applications for the 18th ASP are accepted until April 15, 2019.

 

Conditions

  • Availability between now and the ASP in December to prepare the mission;
  • Availability to attend the ASP;
  • Availability to report on the ASP before, during and after the ASP;
  • Being able to get a visa for and to fly to the Netherlands before the ASP.

The ASP is a very demanding activity. Members of the delegation are requested to work long hours throughout the day. It is strongly recommended that students avoid other kinds of deadlines during or shortly after the ASP.

 

Evaluation criteria

  • Cycle of studies: priority is given to master or higher degree;
  • Link between the applicant and a team member or organization involved in the Partnership;
  • Link between the ASP/ICC and the field of study, the professional goals and the other academic/scientific activities of the applicant;
  • Availability to prepare the mission, to attend the ASP and to report on it thereafter;
  • Fluency and good writing command in English or French (bilingualism an asset);
  • Priority is given to applicants who have never received funding from the Partnership.

 

How to apply

Your application must include your resume, transcripts, passport copy as well as a motivation letter explaining how your application meets the evaluation criteria. You are strongly invited to write few paragraphs of your motivation letter in French if your application is in English and vice-versa.

Please upload your application and fill in the application form below before April 15, 2019.

 

For further information, write to:

Érick Sullivan

Coordinator of the Canadian Partnership for International Justice

internationaljustice.sshrc@gmail.com

Scholarship to attend the “International Justice and Victims’ Rights Summer School”: Call for applications

By | Funding Opportunities, Student News

$ 2,000 scholarship (Master’s or Ph.D. student)

Purpose of the scholarship

The Canadian Partnership for International Justice (CPIJ) is offering a $ 2,000 scholarship to graduate students from developing countries to attend the International Justice and Victims’ Rights Summer School (see also here). Under the direction of Jo-Anne Wemmers, Professor at the School of Criminology, the summer school will be held on May 31 to June 8, 2019 at the Montreal Centre for International Studies, University of Montreal (CÉRIUM). As the school is bilingual (French-English), students are expected to be fluent in French or English and to have at least a passive understanding of the other language. The scholarship will be used to help pay tuition, travel expenses, and stay of the student.

Application

Please send a file containing:

  • A short CV (use this format), including the list of academic and professional achievements (e.g. education, scholarships, publications, presentations at conferences);
  • A letter of motivation specifying your research interests and justifying the benefit of participating in the summer school for the advancement of your project;
  • A copy of the grades obtained in your current program;
  • A proof of current enrolment in a postsecondary institution.

Filing the application

Complete files must be emailed by Friday, March 15, 2019 at 5:00 PM to valerie.meehan@umontreal.ca as a single file in PDF format. Only complete files will be taken into account.

Siracusa International Institute’s Specialization Course in International Criminal Law: Funding available

By | Funding Opportunities, Student News, Upcoming Events

This year again, the Canadian Partnership for International Justice (CPIJ) sponsors 2 to 3 students’ attendance to the Siracusa International Institute for Criminal Justice and Human RightsSpecialization Course in International Criminal Law for Young Penalists. The 19th edition of this world-renowned course, themed “Human Rights and Criminal Justice”, will take place from June 2 to 10, 2019, in Siracusa (Italy). The program is available here. It should be noted that the course is in English.

Students of the 18th Specialization Course in International Criminal Law for Young Penalists. Photo: Siracusa Institute.

Nature of the funding

Selected students can claim funding for the following admissible expenses:[1]

  • Transportation (e.g. plane, train or bus ticket, gasoline receipts);
  • Housing;
  • Catering;
  • Registration to the course.

Application process

To apply, candidates should complete both of the following steps before March 31st, 2019:

  1. First, applicants should apply directly to the Siracusa Institute through the online application form;
  2. Second, applicants should fill the following form to seek CPIJ funding.
    1. The application must include the applicant’s resume, transcripts, passport copy as well as a motivation letter explaining how the application meets the evaluation criteria listed below.

Evaluation criteria

  • Link between the applicant and a team member or organization involved in the Partnership;
  • Link between the course and the field of study, the professional goals and the other academic/scientific activities of the applicant;
  • Fluency in English;
  • Previous funding received from CPIJ: priority is given to applicants who have never received funding from the Partnership;

Selected students will be informed promptly after the deadline of March 31st, 2019.

[1] An expense is admissible when it complies with the administrative requirements of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and of CPIJ’s host institution, Université Laval (www.sf.ulaval.ca). CPIJ could refuse to reimburse an expense that is not admissible or that subsequently becomes inadmissible after CPIJ initially accepted to fund the project. It is the student’s responsibility to verify the admissibility of the expenses. It is strongly encouraged to have all planned expenses pre-approved by CPIJ. Additional information can be provided on demand.

Sorry John McCallum, extradition doesn’t neatly divide the courts from the politicians

By | CPIJ in the Media

The ambassador and the Prime Minister stress the role of judges in the Meng case, but experts say extradition is ultimately about political decision-making

Even after all the coverage of John McCallum’s unorthodox remarks about the strong arguments he says Meng Wanzhou’s lawyers will be able to marshal to stop the Huawei executive from being extradited to the U.S., it’s still worth looking closely at exactly what Canada’s ambassador to China actually said earlier this week when he mused aloud about the sensitive case to Chinese-language media gathered near Toronto.

The overlap of law and politics: Meng Wanzhou’s extradition explained

By | CPIJ in the Media

When John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, said this week that Chinese business executive Meng Wanzhou has “quite good arguments on her side” in her fight against extradition to the United States, he ignited a political storm. The Globe and Mail’s Sean Fine set out to explore the overlap between law and politics in a case that has set China and Canada on a collision course.

International Justice and Victims’ Rights Summer School

By | News, Upcoming Events

The School

The International Justice and Victims’ Rights summer school brings together internationally renowned experts, and human rights organizations in order to discuss and reflect on issues surrounding victims’ rights and international justice. In recent years, developments like the International Criminal Court, have catapulted victims’ rights into criminal justice. In order to ensure that as they evolve, victims’rights remain linked to the reality of victims and not develop into empty legal concepts that are detached from victims’ needs, it is important to have an understanding of the impact of victimization, victims’ needs and the effects of the law.

This course serves to train and engage students and professionals in the areas of law, criminology, and related disciplines in key issues regarding the rights of victims of crime and abuse of power. Organized in collaboration with the School of Criminology, the CÉRIUM, and the International Centre for Comparative Criminology, this course is an activity of the Canadian Partnership for International Justice (CPIJ), which is funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Topics include reparation of victims of crimes against humanity, addressing the needs of victims of sexual violence in the courts, how courts handle victims who at the same time are perpetrators, as well as the place of victims in transitional justice.

This week long course consists of daily lectures by experts. Each day there are two lectures: one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Lectures are one hour and thirty minutes and are followed by a break and a discussion period. In addition, a visit to the Raoul Wallenberg Center and a meeting with a representative from the Canadian Center for International Justice are scheduled.

The school will take place from June 3 to 8, 2019. Students who will be credited are invited to attend to a welcome session on May 31st, 2019.

CPIJ is offering a $ 2,000 scholarship to a graduate student from a developing country to attend this school. See here for more information. 

Language

The school is bilingual (French-English). Students are expected to be fluent in French or English and to have at least a passive understanding of the other language. Students may submit their work in French or English.

Speakers

  • Jo-Anne Wemmers, Course Leader, Professor, School of Criminology, Université de Montréal. Researcher at the International Centre of Comparative Criminology (CICC), Head of the research team Victims, Rights and Society. Contact : jo-anne.m.wemmers@umontreal.ca
  • Fannie Lafontaine, Professor, Faculty of Law, Laval University. Canada Research Chair in International Criminal Justice and Fundamental Rights
  • Valerie Oosterveld, Associate Professor, Western Law. Associate Director, Western University’s Center for Transitional Justice and Post-Conflict Reconstruction
  • Mylène Jaccoud, Professor, School of Criminologie, Université de Montréal
  • Luke Moffett, Senior Lecturer, School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast. Researcher at The Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice
  • Mark A. Drumbl, Alumni Professor of Law and Director, Transnational Law Institute, School of Law, Washington and Lee University
  • Frédéric Mégret, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, McGill, William Dawson Scholar
  • Amissi Manirabona, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Université de Montréal
  • Isabelle Daignault, Associate Professor, School of Criminology, Université de Montréal. Co-director of the Centre d’étude sur le développement et l’adaptation desjeunes (CEDAJ).
  • Amanda Ghahremani Legal Consultant: International Criminal Law, Universal Jurisdiction & Redress for Survivors of Atrocity Crimes

Social activities

Participants are invited to attend an opening cocktail, as well as a closing cocktail on Saturday, where certificates of participation will be presented. Exchanges between professors, professionals and students will be encouraged in order to allow participants to expand their networks.

Registration details

The course is intended for graduate and exceptional undergraduate students in the areas of law, criminology, and related disciplines at the Université de Montréal, as well as other universities in Quebec, Canada and abroad. It is also intended for interested professionals, including lawyers working in the field of international criminal law.

Professionals will receive a certificate of participation rather than credits. Members of the Ordre des criminologues du Québec and the Barreau du Québec may be credited with this course by their professional order (conditions may apply).

Undergraduate students are required to have the authorization of their program director, an average of 3.5 out of 4.3 and have completed at least 60 university credits before enrolling.

Students can choose either to obtain 3 credits (meeting all the requirements) or obtain 1.5 credits (attending lectures and doing only part of the assignments).

Students who will be credited are invited to attend to a welcome session on May 31st, 2019.

Registration information will be updated at: https://cerium.umontreal.ca/en/programs-of-study/

Registration fees

• Government and business employees: CA $ 1,200
• General public (employees, retirees, self-employed): CA $ 1,000• NPO and NGO: CA $ 500
• Uncredited or outside Quebec students: CA $ 475
• Daily rates: CA $ 350

(Rates may change)

CPIJ is offering a $ 2,000 scholarship to a graduate student from a developing country to attend this school. See here for more information. 

Arrival

Participants from outside of Canada may require a visa to visit Canada. In order to know the steps to obtain a visa, please visit: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/tourist.asp

If required, participants can receive a letter of invitation from CÉRIUM by contacting the course leader.

Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport is located on the Island of Montreal. The Montreal Transit Corporation (STM, http://www.stm.info/en) offers bus and metro service. Bus 747 runs between Trudeau Airport and the Lionel- Groulx Metro Station. The rate of this express line is $ 10, payable in exact change on the bus. At the Lionel-Groulx station, you can take the metro to get to the Université de Montréal (blue line, Université de Montréal and Côte-des-Neiges stations). To access the metro map, please visit: http://www.stm.info/en/infos/reseaux/metroTaxis are also available. Expect to pay approximately $40 for a taxi from the airport to the university.

Accommodation

It is the responsibility of participants coming from outside Montreal to find and book their accommodation. The Hotel Studios is located very close to the university (Metro station Université de Montréal) and offers the possibility of renting a single or double room for the week.

For more information and to make your reservations, please visit: http://www.zumhotel.ca/en/tariffs/

For other options, please visit: http://www.logement.umontreal.ca/trouver/temporaire.htm

Tourist activities

Montreal is a cosmopolitan and multicultural city of 4 million people from 120 different countries. Just a few steps from the university, you will find Côte-des- Neiges street where you will have access to supermarkets, pharmacies, restaurants, cafés, bookstores, among others.

The university is a short walk from Saint Joseph’s Oratory. It has easy access to the city center, the Old Port, Mount-Royal, as well as the Le Plateau and Mile-End neighborhoods, where you will find a wide offer of restaurants, cafés, boutiques, and other tourist attractions.

For more information about what to do in Montreal, please visit the Tourisme Montréal website: https://www.mtl.org/en

Looking forward to seeing you in Montreal!

The Nevsun case is heard before the Supreme Court of Canada

By | News, Press Releases

January 2019 – On 23 January 2019, co-researchers of the Canadian Partnership for International Justice intervened before the Supreme Court of Canada during the hearing of the Nevsun case. This groundbreaking case has great potential significance for human rights and corporate accountability in Canada as it is the first lawsuit whose claims are based directly on violations of international law.

The case questions whether a Canadian mining company should be held accountable for human rights violations perpetrated abroad. The British Columbia mining company Nevsun Resources Ltd. faces charges of forced labour, a form of slavery, related to the construction of the Canadian owned Bisha gold mine in Eritrea. Plaintiffs are former mine workers who have been granted the refugee status in Canada.

Jennifer Klinck, Paul Champ and Penelope Simons at the hearing. (Photo: Twitter)

In appeal before the Supreme Court of Canada, Nevsun sought immunity for its conduct based on the common law doctrine of act of state. The respondents pleaded the absence of a doctrine of corporate immunity in international law and claimed that jus cogens norms of customary international law should serve as a source for development of the Canadian common law.

CPIJ is proud that its co-researchers Penelope Simons and François Larocque intervened, together with Jennifer Klinck and Paul Champ, as representatives of Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists. Co-researcher Amanda Ghahremani and the Canadian Center for International Justice (CCIJ), a CPIJ partner organization, were also part of the legal team for the respondents.

The webcast of the hearing is available here, and the parties’ factums on appeal can be accessed here. Further documentation is available on CCIJ’s website.

What did Canadian mining executives know about possible human rights violations in Eritrea?

By | CPIJ in the Media

Scott Anderson | CBC News

Executives at Vancouver-based mining firm Nevsun Resources have denied direct knowledge of human rights violations at their gold and copper mine in the Bisha mining district in northern Eritrea, adjacent to Sudan. (CBC)

For years, Vancouver-based mining firm Nevsun Resources has dismissed allegations that forced labour was used to build its mine in the repressive east African country of Eritrea.

Nevsun executives have denied direct knowledge of human rights violations at their Bisha mine site in a CBC interview and during an appearance before a parliamentary committee.

But company documents filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia last November and reviewed by CBC’s The Fifth Estate show executives at the highest level appear to have been informed of issues of forced labour at their mine site a decade ago.

Former Bisha mine workers are suing Nevsun in B.C. for alleged human rights violations — including forced labour, slavery and torture.

The company denies the allegations and has appealed the matter of whether the case can be heard in B.C. to the Supreme Court of Canada. Nevsun argues that the case should be adjudicated in Eritrea. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the matter on Wednesday.

The court’s decision could have a far-reaching impact on Canadian corporations operating abroad.

“The Supreme Court of Canada will be asked to rule on whether in fact it is possible in our legal system to hold a corporate citizen of Canada to account for decisions made in Canada, by a Canadian corporation, in how it will engage in business in Eritrea,” said law professor Audrey Macklin, counsel for the University of Toronto’s International Human Rights Program, which has intervener status in the Supreme Court matter.

Mass exodus

In recent years, there has been a mass exodus of hundreds of thousands of people from Eritrea, a small country of six million in the Horn of Africa. They have fled in part because of the country’s controversial national service program, which the United Nations and human rights groups have charged involves lengthy military conscription and forced labour.

“Eritrea is a human rights pariah and the use of indeterminate conscription and forced labour has been widely reported,” said Macklin. “The question would be what kind of due diligence did Nevsun do prior to its foray into Eritrea?”

Nevsun is partners with the government of Eritrea through the Bisha Mining Share Company (BMSC). The mine is 40 per cent owned by the Eritrean National Mining Corporation (ENAMCO).

The Bisha mine opened in 2011 and has produced hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of gold, copper and zinc. For years, the mine was the only major source of revenue for the regime of President Isaias Afwerki.

But back in 2009, Nevsun was seeking financing during the construction phase of the mine when the issue of forced labour in Eritrea was raised by potential lenders.

One email filed in court, dated March 4, 2009, and written by then Nevsun CEO Cliff Davis, is headlined “Private and Confidential due to Sensitivity.”

Workers and visitors walk within the processing plant at the Bisha Mining Share Company in Eritrea on Feb. 18, 2016. (Thomas Mukoya/Reuters)

Davis writes that the lenders “have placed another obstacle in the road to finance. They assert that the country practises involuntary labour (forced labour) and before they can lend to the project, BMSC must demonstrate that the Bisha mine will not be a benefactor in any way of such labour, either directly or via any of its contractors.”

In the same email, Davis notes “we understand there are currently some National Service people working for a key contractor working at site” and that “we are in the process of determining whether the terms of employment would constitute forced labour.” Davis suggests BMSC could hire the workers directly or offer them contracts “where they could leave on their own free will.”

But Davis goes on to say “None of these solutions are palatable to the Eritreans because: 1. another Westerner telling the Eritreans how to run their country; 2. potential disruption to the national development campaign. Politically a very sensitive topic.”

‘Permeates the whole region’

As part of its due diligence, according to the documents filed in court, Nevsun and the lenders brought in U.S. social development expert Kerry Connor to review the operation. Connor is based in Washington, D.C., and has done risk reviews for mining operations around the world.

In a March 25, 2009, email from Connor to then Nevsun vice-president Trevor Moss, she refers to a conversation she had with Stan Rogers, the manager of the mine at the time.

“Just spoke with Stan,” she writes. “He recognizes it’s forced labour and says it permeates the whole country with nearly everyone in some way associated with the “program.”

“Also says no one understands the scope of the issue viz a viz project employment of program people — so we need to concentrate on this before we can determine what can be done.”

Connor later concluded in an April 2009 report, also part of the court filing, that “the project is at risk for contravention of the prohibition on the use of forced labour, as represented by the use of NS workers.”

A truck arrives to ferry excavated gold, copper and zinc ore from the main mining pit at the Bisha Mining Share Company on Feb. 17, 2016. (Thomas Mukoya/Reuters)

The workers in question were provided by an Eritrean state-owned subcontractor called Segen.

Connor also reported that “Segen, the only project sub-contractor, indicates that its project workforce is composed primarily of longtime Segen employees, complemented by some expatriates with special skills, and that no NS workers have been employed on the project.  A rapid assessment by BMSC social staff, however, found evidence of approximately 23 NS workers employed by Segen at various times on the project.”

“[Nevsun] were not avoiding it. They were very much aware of it,” Connor said in a recent interview. “They were somewhat aware of it in the beginning and the initial question was: ‘Well, is it even possible to employ a contractor who isn’t government?’ ”

‘No corroborating claims’

While the company documents filed in court would suggest Nevsun had been informed of possible forced labour at their mine site in 2009, company officials have not disclosed this information in the past.

In a 2016 documentary about the Bisha mine by The Fifth Estate, host Mark Kelley asked Todd Romaine, then Nevsun’s vice-president of corporate social responsibility: “You don’t believe there was any conscripted labour that was ever used in the development or operation of your mine?”

“We’ve done extensive investigations to date inside Eritrea and at the Bisha mine,” Romaine said. “There’s no corroborating claims to support any of the allegations being made.”

Todd Romaine, who was vice-president of corporate social responsibility at Nevsun Resources in 2016, told The Fifth Estate at the time that the company had done extensive investigations in Eritrea and at its Bisha mine. (CBC)

Romaine, who is no longer an official at the company since China’s Zijin Mining Group made a successful bid for it in December, declined to comment for this story.

In 2012, testifying in front of the parliamentary subcommittee on international human rights in Ottawa, Davis, then the company’s CEO, was asked by Liberal MP Irwin Cotler: “So you are not aware yourself of any human rights violations in Eritrea?”

Davis responded: “I’m certainly not directly aware at all. All I have is the same access that you have with respect to the internet, and postings on the internet, and articles.”

When Cotler asked again: “So you have received no reports of any human rights violations while you have been in Eritrea?” Davis replied: “No.”

Now retired from Nevsun, Davis did not return calls for comment.

Longstanding skepticism

The Eritrean plaintiffs have made an application to the B.C. Supreme Court to join Davis personally as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Davis’s lawyer, Stephen Schachter, said “the matter is before the court and Mr. Davis will simply advise you that that’s the case. He’s not going to be commenting on a matter before the court.”

In 2013, Human Rights Watch published a report on alleged human rights violations at the Bisha mine.

In a meeting with Human Rights Watch, “Nevsun did not acknowledge that Segen had used conscript labourers at Bisha, but neither did it rule out the possibility,” the report said.

In a January 2013 media release, Nevsun said that the company “expresses regret if certain employees of Segen were conscripts four years ago, in the early part of the Bisha Mine’s construction phase.”

But Human Rights Watch has always been skeptical of Nevsun’s position.

“It defies belief that Nevsun did not know that a state contractor would be using national service labour,” Felix Horne, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in a recent interview.

“The Nevsun experience is an important lesson for the other international mining companies that are operating in Eritrea, that unless proper procedures are put in place from the beginning, you will likely be using national service labour for the development of your mine.”

More investigation

Nevsun has maintained that it screens for military conscripts — requiring proof that their workers are no longer in the national service program.

In response to concerns raised by the United Nations, Nevsun also conducted further investigation by another social responsibility expert.

“I am very confident that there’s no forced labour, there’s no national service used either in the direct workforce or in the Eritrean contractors that provide labour or transportation or security guards to the Bisha mine,” Montreal human rights lawyer Lloyd Lipsett told The Fifth Estate in 2016.

But according to the company documents filed in court last November, forced labour at its mine site was not the only possible human rights violation Nevsun executives became aware of early on. Eritrean officials were also arresting workers off their mine site without clear cause.

In a June 28, 2010, email under the subject line “Staff Arrests,” mine manager Stan Rogers writes to Davis: “Cliff, I think that brings the number to seven or eight!! We of course have no idea why they have been taken away.” Rogers signs off on the email: “Great Country…:-)”

A general view shows the sag mill and ball mill within the processing plant at the Bisha Mining Share Company. (Thomas Mukoya/Reuters)

An Aug. 5, 2010, memorandum from a company executive to Nevsun’s audit committee reviewed “allegations of fraud” that the Eritreans apparently provided as the reason for the arrests.

“Over the past three months, five BMSC staff have been arrested by Eritrean authorities,” the memo said. “According to BMSC senior management, the Eritrean state has alleged the employees were involved in various frauds including the theft of food and fuel inventories and kickbacks on purchasing.”

But the memo goes on to report that it “should be emphasized that no evidence of fraud has been uncovered by BMSC management or received from the Eritrean state. However, ENAMCO personnel have confirmed to BMSC management that the employees have confessed to having a role in the frauds.”

At the time of publication, Nevsun had not officially responded to a request for comment.

Source: https://www.cbc.ca/amp/1.4980530