The B.C. Supreme Court has given the go-ahead to three refugees to proceed with a civil lawsuit against a Vancouver-based company they accuse of using forced labour in the construction of an East African mine.
The lawsuit filed by three former Eritrean conscripts in B.C.’s Supreme Court accuse Nevsun Resources of being “an accomplice to the use of forced labour, crimes against humanity and other human rights abuses at the Bisha mine.”
The Vancouver-based miner had argued that the case should be dismissed and that any lawsuit should be heard in Eritrea, not Canada. But Justice Patrice Abrioux rejected that argument, concluding “there is a real risk that the plaintiffs could not be provided with justice in Eritrea.”
Lawyers representing the workers say it’s the first lawsuit against a Canadian company over allegations of human rights abuses that happened abroad that has been allowed to proceed in B.C.
“Yesterday was a big step forward for our client. The B.C. Supreme Court refused to dismiss the case at a preliminary jurisdictional stage,” said lawyer Joe Fiorante.
“Historically that has been where claims brought against Canadian companies for conduct abroad have been dismissed.”Fiorante said the ruling will allow them to gather more evidence for their case directly from the company.
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