Category

Press Releases

Members of the Partnership will intervene as Amici Curiæ before the International Criminal Court in the Al Bashir case

By | News, Press Releases | No Comments

May 21, 2018 – A group of experts including members of the Canadian Partnership for International Justice were granted leave to submit observations on complicated and controversial questions about the immunity of a head of state.

The group of experts, composed of Darryl Robinson (Queen’s University), Fannie Lafontaine (Laval University), Valerie Oosterveld (Western University), Margaret M. deGuzman (Temple University), Robert Cryer (Birmingham Law School), and Carsten Stahn (Leiden University), have been invited to submit an Amici Curiae to the Court before June 18, 2018. Mark Kersten (Munk School of Global Affairs) and Sergey Vasiliev (Leiden University) were also consulted in the preparation of the request.

The issues arise in a case against President Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan, accused of genocide and other crimes committed in Darfur. The UN Security Council referred the situation to the International Criminal Court, and ordered Sudan to ‘cooperate fully’ with the Court.  Some states, including Jordan, have failed to arrest Omar Al-Bashir.  The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan appealled against the decision of Pre-Trial Chamber II on non-compliance with the Court’s request for arrest and surrender of Omar Al-Bashir.  The case concerns the power of the UN Security Council to set aside immunities in the pursuit of justice.

The request for leave and the decision on its acceptance are available online.

Canada’s Presidency of the G7: CPIJ Submitted Recommendations to Advance Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment

By | News, Press Releases | No Comments

April 2018 – The Canadian Partnership for International Justice recently submitted a note to Ambassador Isabelle Hudon, Co-President of the Gender Equality Advisory Council for Canada’s G7 Presidency, to provide useful information and reflection material in preparation of the 44thG7 Summit that will be held in June in Charlevoix.

On November 16, 2017, members of the CPIJ participated in a public event and subsequent experts’ roundtable consultation with Deputy Minister for the G7 and Personal Representative of the Prime Minister, Peter Boehm. The event was held at Laval University in Québec City. In addition, CPIJ members met with Ambassador Hudon, on March 14, 2018, also at Laval University. The note, written by Fannie Lafontaine, Pascal Paradis, Janine Lespérance, Penelope Simons and Valerie Oosterveld, was then submitted to Ambassador Hudon at her request, on April 16.

The submitted note aimed at contributing to the development of Canada’s agenda and specific priorities for the G7 meeting. In particular, CPIJ identified three main areas in which Canada is well placed to take a leadership role:

  1. Preventing sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) through increased criminal accountability;
  2. Ending corporate complicity in human rights violations, in particular violence against women and girls, through corporate accountability and remedy mechanisms;
  3. Using laws and legal mechanisms to empower women and girls.

These subjects relate to the five key themes that the Canadian Government has identified as priorities for Canada’s G7 Presidency, and are all most acutely related to the main and cross-cutting priority theme of Advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment. They are also central to the themes Building a more peaceful and secure world and Investing in growth that works for everyone.

The recommendations include notably the creation of  an international taskforce on accountability for SGBV, which would serve to gather and identify best practices in the prosecution of this type of violence from past and present international criminal accountability mechanisms. They also include the adoption of adequately funded ombudsperson mechanisms, with the independent ability to conduct effective investigations, make recommendations, and impose sanctions on corporations and provide reparations to victims of corporate related human rights violations, including SGBV. The direction of foreign aid and international cooperation programmes toward supporting women’s legal empowerment is also recommended.

See the full note here.

Prosecution of international crimes: an expert meeting with 27 worldwide experts will take place this week in Ottawa

By | News, Press Releases | No Comments

Ottawa, March 14th, 2018 – The expert meeting “Prosecuting International Crimes: Expert Meeting on the Collaboration between National Prosecuting Authorities (NPAs) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)” will be held on March 15 and 16, 2018, at the University of Ottawa.

This expert meeting aims at significantly improving the collaboration between NPAs and NGOs in the prosecution of international crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

This collaboration is fundamental to the success of the global international justice system created in 1998 by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court that is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. According to this international statute, States bear the primary responsibility to investigate, and prosecute or extradite suspects of international crimes. They are often helped by NGOs, who play a significant role in the cases prosecuted at the national level. But little has been done so far to develop guidelines for ensuring that NPAs and NGOs involved in such cases operate in a way that is mutually supportive, aiming at the goal of a successful prosecution with due regard to fair trial guarantees with a gender perspective at all stages.

The 27 worldwide experts from States, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions will thus share their views on various issues influencing this collaboration based on their experience and knowledge. These discussions will lead to the publication of a report that would have durable impact on the laws, policies and institutions that aim at deterring atrocity crimes and contributing to the healing process of victims.

This meeting is organized by the Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Section of the Canadian Department of Justice, the Canadian Centre for International Justice, Lawyers Without Borders Canada, the Human Rights Center of University of California Berkeley School of Law, Université Laval and the Canadian Partnership for International Justice. It is partially funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and by Heritage Canada. Many States and civil society organizations also contribute in-kind support.

Commemorations of the 20th Anniversary of the Rome Statute in the Hague: Co-Researcher Darryl Robinson Participated

By | News, Press Releases | No Comments

February 2018 – The Partnership participated in the launch of commemorations of the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute in the Hague, the Netherlands.  The event took place on February 15 and 16 2018.

At the first day of the event, held at the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s premises, key actors offered reflections on the trajectory of international justice.  Speakers included the President, Prosecutor and the Registrar of the ICC, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, among others.

The second day of the commemoration, held at the Peace Palace, featured three interactive sessions on, respectively, the historic significance of the Statute, current challenges for the ICC, and the future of international justice.  Each session was led by 3-4 panelists and then opened up for interactive dialogue among the participants.

Co-researcher Darryl Robinson, Associate Professor at Queen’s University, spoke in the second session.  He discussed the challenging communications environment for the Court.  One element is that some defendants and opponents have had the resources to launch effective public relations campaigns against the Court.  Another element is that even Court supporters have contradictory expectations for the Court. The event was well attended by experts on international criminal justice, including officials who helped negotiate the Rome Statute, leaders from non-governmental organizations, diplomats, academics, and journalists.

Spotlight on the Partnership’s Attendance to the 16th Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court

By | Communiqués de presse, News, Press Releases | No Comments

The 16th Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the International Criminal Court (ICC), to which the Canadian Partnership for International Justice attended, is already over. Summary of two eventful weeks.

The ASP started its work on December 4 with a plenary opening session where the main issues of the 16th session were discussed, namely the election of six judges and members of the Bureau, the activation of the ICC’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression, situations of non-cooperation, the relation between the Court and State Parties (in particular African States) and the remedies granted to victims of crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction. Later this day, after the first round of voting, the Assembly elected two judges, Ms. Tomoko Akane from Japan and Ms Luz del Carmen Ibáñez Carranza from Peru. The Partnership delegates then attended a side event on the professionalization of investigations in relation to international crimes. This first day ended with a reception organized by Amnesty International to launch their new platform “Human Rights in International Justice”.

During the second day of the ASP, three more women judges were elected: Reine Alapini-Gansou, from Bénin; Solomy Balungi Bossa, from Ouganda; and Kimberly Prost, from Canada. The Partnership delegation attended many side events, including one related to reparative justice that highlighted that the full realization of the complementarity principle cannot be achieved without the respect of the rights of victims of international crimes.

The Partnership delegates started the third day of the ASP hoping that the election of judges could be completed so the Assembly could move on to address other issues. Their wish came true when Rosario Salvatore Aitala, from Italy, was the sixth and last judge to be elected after the ninth round of voting. In the end, the voting process was a lot faster than in 2014, to the benefit of the Partnership’s delegates. They took the opportunity to meet with the co-researcher Mark Kersten to discuss issues related to international justice. Furthermore, the side event to which the delegates attended that day touched topics such as the national jurisdictions’ role in the fight against impunity, the importance of dissuasion and the role of the ICC in the current human rights violations, issues related to the cooperation of Côte d’Ivoire with the ICC, issues related to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), and the qualification of ecocide as a crime against humanity.

On the fourth day, the delegates carefully listened to the speeches pronounced by the representatives of State Parties, which intervened during the plenary session to publicly express their position on different topics, including the crimes of aggression and the budget, and to carry out messages to the world and to their colleagues. The delegates also attended side events discussing the second anniversary of the African Group for Justice and Accountability (AGJA), the drafted multilateral treaty for most serious international crimes, the particularities of the Nuremberg Principles Academy and the possibility of an ICC intervention to judge extrajudicial killings related to drug offences in the Philippines. Furthermore, in the context of celebrations related to the 15th anniversary of the ICC in 2017 and the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute in 2018, Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice (WIGJ) launched in the evening the Gender Justice Legacy Wall, on which the co-researcher Valerie Oosterveld’s name appears, jointly with extraordinary women and men who worked for this cause. During this event, Ms. Brigid Inder received a special award for her work within WIGJ, which she leaves after nearly 15 years of implication.

During the fifth and last day the the first week of the ASP16, non-State Parties to the Rome Statute and members of the civil society presented their declaration to the ASP. Then, the Partnership delegates had the great pleasure to informally discuss issues related to international justice with the president elected Judge O-Gon Kwon. They also took part to the launch of the study “Congolese Jurisprudence Concerning International Law Crimes” (« La jurisprudence congolaise en matière de crimes de droit international ») and of the ICC Prosecutor’s annual report on preliminary investigations conducted in 2017. The day ended with a side event on the situation in Burundi following the opening of an ICC investigation, which was followed by an expert panel discussion on immunities in international law, moderated by Mark Kersten.

After a week-end busy with the writing of blogposts, reports and publications of all kinds, the Partnership delegates were back at the United Nations Headquarters on Monday, December 11, for the sixth day of the ASP. The discussions in the plenary sessions, to which they attended, concerned cooperation and the drafted amendments to the Rome Statute. Furthermore, the day war particularly rich in side events, since the partner Lawyers Without Borders Canada organized an event on the progress made in relation to the fight against impunity in Mali. The delegation also reflected the ICC’s role in accountability for grave crimes committed in Ukraine, the progress made in the drafting of an international convention on crimes against humanity, and the role if the Security Council and the ASP in the improvement of the cooperation between the State Parties and the ICC. Later on, in the afternoon, the delegates visited the the UN Headquarters, which was both an instructive and entertaining activity. This eventful day ended with a reception in which an expert panel discussed the relations between the ICC and Africa, and by the presentation of a film on the formation of journalists in the field of international justice.

Fannie Lafontaine joined the delegation for the 7th and 8th days ASP, enriching it with her stunning expertise and her contagious dynamism. The seventh day was of particular importance for the delegates, who were eager to meet with Ms. Louise Arbour, United Nations Special Representative for International Migration. After conversing with her for nearly one hour, the delegates attended the plenary session discussions about the drafted resolutions to be adopted by the Assembly at the end of the week. The Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda also presented her report concerning the current situation in Darfur. Later the same day, Lawyers Without Borders Canada organized a second event in as many days, this time concerning the challenges of the Colombian peace process. Other side events of the day led the delegates to reflect on ways to improve gender equality in the ICC personal, the use of SGBV as a method of warfare, and the fight against impunity of SGBV in Centrafrican Republic, Colombia, DRC and Iraq. In the end of the afternoon, the delegation was pleased to meet with Catherine Boucher, legal advisor at the Permanent Mission of Canada in the UN. The content of this discussion must remain confidential; however, delegated truly appreciated to get to know this women engaged in the practice of law.

The highlight of the eighth day of the ASP was the side event organized by the co-researcher Valerie Oosterveld, addressing prosecutions of SGBV within the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Described by many as the best side event of the week, it brought together an expert panel moderated by the Partnership co-director Fannie Lafontaine. After this resounding success, the delegated met with the Canadian judge Kimberly Prost, who was just elected at the ICC, and asked her various questions about her career and, notably, her opinion on issues currently faced by the Court. During that day, delegated also had the occasion to attend side events related to the creation of an Inter-American Criminal Court to judge issues related to organized crime, and celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Ottawa Convention on the prohibition of landmines.

To say that the ninth and last day of the ASP was expected by all would be an euphemism. The eyes of the whole world were on the ASP16, expecting a historical decision: the activation of the Court’s jurisdiction on the crime of aggression. After adopting resolutions concerning the Registrar’s election, the Assembly had lengthy negotiations behind closed doors on the activation of the Court’s jurisdiction. These negotiations were planned to last until 6pm, but lasted a lot longer since no consensus could be reach in the time allowed. It was impossible to know when they would come to an end, and the delegates knew that if they left the UN Headquarters, they could not go back in before the next morning due to restrictions on access to the building. On the other hand, the food available there was very limited, and all were starving. The delegates decided to remain on the site, determined to do everything they could to attend this historical event. It is only at 9:30pm that the NGOs could have access to the plenary session to witness the deliberations. A last drafted resolution not opened to negotiations was submitted to the appreciation of States. Minutes later, a mistake was found in the wording of the third article, and a new version was transmitted. After a long pause allowing some discussions to happen, many States made declarations. It is only at that moment that the Partnership delegates noticed, not without a certain pride, that they were the only non-State representatives left at the Assembly. Their patience was finally rewarded when, a little before 10pm, the resolution was adopted without modification, and, importantly, by consensus! The subsequent State declarations watered the ambient joy, as they expressed their will not to be bound by the Court’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression. The plenary continued in the night until 2:30am, under the delegates’ attentive eyes, which were still very awake.

The delegates unanimously share the opinion that they will keep an imperishable memory of their attendance to the 16th ASP of the ICC. This event was extremely enriching, on the professional as well as on the personal level, and the skill acquired as well as the people met will never be forgotten. The delegation wants to emphasize the exceptional work of Erick Sullivan, which coordinated all its activities both before, during and after the ASP, and revised each and every publication made by every delegate, making sure at the same time that everyone’s attendance to the ASP was a most positive and unforgettable experience.

 

Catherine Savard

© Photos by Maxime Mariage

The Wong v. HMQ Case, on Which Students from the uOttawa Clinic Worked, is Heard by the Supreme Court

By | News, Press Releases | No Comments

November 2017 – Students from the University of Ottawa Clinic provided legal research and analysis in support of Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL)’s intervention in Wong v. HMQ, which was heard by the Supreme Court of Canada on November 10th 2017. At issue was the principle that a guilty plea must be voluntary and informed in order to be valid. In this case, the accused pled guilty without knowing he would become criminally inadmissible to Canada, and almost certainly deported. On appeal, he argued the plea was invalid because he was not informed of the very serious consequence of deportation. The case has important implications for the rights of refugees and refugee claimants, including persons seeking protection who may have been (or who may become) the subject of prosecutions for international crimes. To ensure the integrity of the international refugee protection regime in these circumstances, it is essential to have a proper framework for evaluating the validity of guilty pleas.

The students from the uOttawa Clinic who worked on this case were very happy with their experience.

“The opportunity to have contributed, even modestly, to a Supreme Court of Canada intervention was an extremely interesting and gratifying experience. Although the case presented factual difficulties, Wong has the potential to set a very significant precedent for individuals facing potential immigration consequences from criminal convictions. Attending the Supreme Court hearing and listening to high-level debates on issues we discussed ourselves was surreal, and taught me critical lessons about advocacy and litigation strategy that I won’t soon forget.”

– Eli Lo Re, Student, uOttawa Refugee & Criminal Law Clinic

“I was extremely pleased and humbled to be involved in CARL’s SCC intervention in Wong. It was an excellent opportunity to learn first-hand both how top litigators prepare for trial, as well as the substantive arguments of each of the parties and interveners. It was particularly interesting observing the different advocacy styles employed by each party, particularly when contrasted against their relative substantive positions. Further, knowing each of the parties’ positions in-depth prior to the hearing also enhanced my ability to understand and critically weigh each judge’s questions and the parties’ responses.”

– Amanda Bergmann, Student, uOttawa Refugee & Criminal Law Clinic

“The Wong case illustrated a perfect example of public interest litigation, which really spoke to achieving social change objectives through the legal system. I thought it was very interesting to watch the oral advocacy strategies that the Appellant’s counsel used, in that they spoke broadly about the need to create a test, while leaving room for the interveners to discuss the potential specifics of a test. While working on the Wong case, I learned to consider and weigh the narrow effects of the law on a particular client (individual), versus the broad changes a favourable ruling could have on an emerging area of law.”

– Nasser Chahbar, Student, uOttawa Refugee & Criminal Law Clinic

Launch of the Gender Justice Legacy Wall: Prof. Valerie Oosterveld is Honoured

By | News, Press Releases | No Comments

December 7, 2017 – In the context of the 2017 celebrations for the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and of the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute in 2018, Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice launched the Gender Justice Legacy Wall. It was inaugurated today in New York at a side event of the Assembly of States Parties to the ICC. Among the honourees is our co-researcher, Prof. Valerie Oosterveld.

The Gender Justice Legacy Wall celebrates those who, over the past 125 years, have contributed to the field of international gender justice. Prof. Oosterveld, expert on gender issues within international criminal justice, was a member of the Canadian delegation to the 1998 U.N. Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of the ICC. She focused on gender-related issues and was involved in the formal, informal, and corridor negotiations on the definition of “gender.” She also served on the Canadian delegation to the subsequent ICC Preparatory Commission and the Assembly of States Parties. The Rome Statute, adopted in 1998, contains the broadest listing of sexual and gender-based crimes in International Criminal Law.© Maxime Mariage

The Canadian Partnership for International Justice is attending the 16th Assembly of States Parties

By | News, Press Releases, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

December 4, 2017 – For the second year in a row, the Canadian Partnership for International Justice is represented at the 16th Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the International Criminal Court (ICC) by a delegation of practitioners, academics and students from various NGOs and academic institutions presented below.

Their attendance to the event of the year on international justice hosted by the UN on 4 to 14 December 2017 will allow them to contribute towards enhancing criminal remedies for victims of international crimes and finding solutions to outstanding issues that hamper the project envisioned in the Rome Statute.

This event is also an amazing opportunity for the Canadian Partnership to train a cohort of students who are educated, engaged and networked in international and transnational law. Through blogging and live twitting, our delegates will train and educate diverse Canadian audiences about the challenges, pitfalls and potential of the system of international justice, and about the priorities to improve the system. Thanks to their experience and knowledge, the delegations will contribute to enhancing Canada’s role as a global leader in the fight against impunity.

Follow the Partnership’s Twitter account and watch for our delegates’ posts on our partners’ platforms (IntLawGrrls, Quid Justitiae, Justice in Conflict, Blogue d’Avocats sans frontières Canada, PKI Global Justice Journal) to learn more about this year’s specific issues and to get news and updates.

Who is attending the ASP this year?

Academics

–       Fannie Lafontaine

–       Valerie Oosterveld

–       Darryl Robinson

–       Mark Kersten

–       Érick Sullivan

Practitioners

–       Amanda Ghahremani

–       Philippe Tremblay

–       Fergus Watt

Students

Jenny Poon

Jenny Poon is a third-year Ph.D. candidate at the Faculty of Law of the University of Western Ontario. Her research examines the norm of non-refoulement in international and European law and will involve a comparative analysis of the norm in United Kingdom and Germany.

Leah Gardner

Leah Gardner earned a law degree in both Common Law and Civil Law from McGill University in 2016. As part of her studies, she also completed the Intensive Semester in Aboriginal Lands, Resources and Governments at Osgoode Hall Law School. Before studying law, she worked as the Public Education Coordinator at a social justice non-profit in Montreal. At the Canadian Centre for International Justice, she led programs on topics like the Canadian extractive industry, international trade, and economic, social and cultural rights. As a human rights accompanier in Colombia, Leah worked with communities impacted by transnational mining. She later returned to Colombia, and also Panama, to complete two legal internships focused on mining law and corporate accountability. She currently sits on the board of the Justice and Corporate Accountability Project (JCAP) legal clinic. Leah holds a B.A. in International Development Studies from McGill University, and has experience working in both immigration and indigenous law in Canada.

Sophie Gagné

Having graduated in 2016 from an Integrated Bachelor in Public Affairs and International Relations (hon.) at Université Laval, Sophie is currently an L.L.M. and L.L.B. candidate, at Université Laval. Her L.L.M. research project, which she is completing under the supervision of Prof. Fannie Lafontaine and Julia Grignon, is about qualification of the end of armed conflicts by international criminal judges. She is part of the Canada Research Chair on International Criminal Justice and Human Rights, as well as of the Interdisciplinary Centre on Africa and Middle East. Since 2015, she has been working closely with the Clinique de droit international pénal et humanitaire, as well as with the Canadian Partnership for International Justice since its creation in 2016.

 

Geneviève Geneau

Geneviève Geneau is currently a Ph.D. student at Ottawa University under the supervision of Professor Muriel Paradelle. Her research focuses on criminalization in international criminal law of sexual violence committed against women in the framework of genocide. She is a research assistant at Université Laval’s Chaire de recherche en droit sur la diversité et la sécurité alimentaires and is a lecturer at Ottawa University.

 

 

 

 

Silviana Iulia Cocan

Silviana Cocan is a Ph.D student in international law at Laval University under joint supervision at Bordeaux University, in France. She is currently writing a thesis on the dialogue between jurisdictions and quasi-jurisdictions protecting human rights. More specifically, she is studying judicial dialogue in direct relation with the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment. Her research fields are public international law, human rights law, international humanitarian law and international criminal law. Silviana is also participating as a student at Université Laval’s International Criminal and Humanitarian Law Clinic.

Catherine Savard

Catherine Savard is currently completing her bachelor in Law at Université Laval. She is also the assistant coordinator for the Canadian Partnership for International Justice. During her degree, she completed a year of schooling at Åbo Akademi University’s Institute for Human Rights, in Finland. Back at Université Laval, she involved in the International Criminal and Humanitarian Law Clinic and realized research mandates, including for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

Nicole Tuczynski

Nicole Tuczynski is a current LL.M (Common Law) student at the University of Ottawa. She also enjoys working in the field of politics on Parliament Hill for a M.P, a position that she has held for the past two years. Her research interests and passion revolve around both International Criminal Law and Canadian Health Law and Policy. Her specific research focus is currently on the International Criminal Court and one of the specific aims of the institution – that being an end to impunity for perpetrators who have committed genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Nicole holds a M.A. in Political Science, with a Collaboration in Transitional Justice and Post-Conflict Reconstruction, and a B.A. Honours Specialization Degree in Political Science, both from Western University. Her previous Master’s Major Research Paper also focused on international justice by way of studying the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and assessing its mandate.

Annika Weikinnis

Annika Weikinnis is currently enrolled in the Graduate Studies in Law program at the University of Ottawa and conducts research in the field of international criminal law, in particular the involvement of transnational corporations in international crimes. She holds a Master’s degree in Politics and International Relations from the University of Aberdeen and a Master’s degree in Law and Politics of International Security from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Attending the ASP16 is an invaluable experience for her, academically and professionally, and she hopes to gain further insights in the organisation, processes and issues concerning the ICC.

Isabelle Jacovella Rémillard

Isabelle oversees the Community Engagement with International Justice project at the Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ), a project which uses multimedia to highlight CCIJ’s clients’ various access to justice efforts. She is also responsible for coordinating CCIJ’s digital outreach and organising legal education workshops with affected communities. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Conflict Studies and Human Rights at the University of Ottawa and her double degree in civil law and common law at McGill University. She also holds a professional certificate in Disaster and Humanitarian Response from the McGill Humanitarian Studies Initiative. Isabelle’s research interests include issues of sexual violence in times of war, and the scope of protection of child soldiers under IHL.

Maxime Mariage

Maxime is currently completing a specialized post-graduate diploma at Université Laval and earned a master in international relations and international journalism. He studied in Beijing and interned in international organizations, notably at the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect and at Crisis Action in New York. He also worked for Le Soleil newspaper in Dakar, Senegal. He is specializing in international law and cultural rights and possesses a huge experience in legal translation.

 

Appeal Court Confirms Slave Labour Lawsuit Against Canadian Mining Company Can go to Trial

By | News, Press Releases | No Comments

November 24, 2017 – British Columbia’s highest court today rejected an appeal by Vancouver-based Nevsun Resources Limited (TSX: NSU / NYSE MKT: NSU) that sought to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Eritreans who allege they were forced to work at Nevsun’s Bisha Mine.

The ruling by the British Columbia Court of Appeal marks the first time that an appellate court in Canada has permitted a mass tort claim for modern slavery.

The court rejected Nevsun’s position that the case should be dismissed in Canada and instead heard in Eritrea. Madam Justice Mary Newbury described the situation in Eritrea as one with “the prospects of no trial at all, or a trial in an Eritrean court, possibly presided over by a functionary with no real independence from the state … and in a legal system that would appear to be actuated largely by the wishes of the President and his military supporters…”

The court also allowed claims of crimes against humanity, slavery, forced labour, and torture to go forward against Nevsun. It is the first time that a Canadian appellate court has recognized that a corporation can be taken to trial for alleged violations of international law norms related to human rights.

The lawsuit, filed in November 2014, alleges that Nevsun engaged Eritrean state-run contractors and the Eritrean military to build the mine’s facilities and that the companies and military deployed forced labour under abhorrent conditions.

“We are very pleased that the case will move to trial,” said Joe Fiorante, Q.C., of Camp Fiorante Matthews Mogerman LLP, lead counsel for the plaintiffs. “There will now be a reckoning in a Canadian court of law in which Nevsun will have to answer to the allegations that it was complicit in forced labour and grave human rights abuses at the Bisha mine.”

Since the initial filing by three Eritrean men, which was the matter reviewed by the Court of Appeal, an additional 51 people have come forward to assert claims against Nevsun.

“I am overjoyed that a Canadian court will hear our claims,” said plaintiff Gize Araya. “Since starting the case, we have always hoped Canada would provide justice for what we suffered at the mine.”

The court also rejected Nevsun’s argument that the company should be immune from suit because the case might touch on actions of the Eritrean government, including allegations of severe human rights violations. Justice Newbury, looking to a recent UK case on the issue, wrote that “torture (and I would add, forced labour and slavery) is ‘contrary to both peremptory norms of international law and a fundamental value of domestic law.’”

This latest ruling by the B.C. Court of Appeal follows one earlier this year permitting a case to go forward against Tahoe Resources for injuries suffered by protestors in Guatemala who were shot outside the company’s mine.

“The Nevsun and Tahoe cases show that Canadian courts can properly exercise jurisdiction over Canadian companies with overseas operations,” said Amanda Ghahremani, Legal Director of the Canadian Centre for International Justice. “When there is a real risk of injustice for claimants in a foreign legal system, their cases should proceed here.”

The plaintiffs are supported in Canada by a legal team comprised of Vancouver law firm Camp Fiorante Matthews Mogerman LLP (CFM); Ontario law firm Siskinds LLP [Nick Baker]; Toronto lawyer James Yap; and the Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ). This victory would not have been possible without the support of Human Rights Concern Eritrea and the tireless efforts of Elsa Chyrum.

For more information:
CCIJ website
CCIJ on Facebook
CCIJ on Twitter: @CCIJ_CCJI