Canadian firm faces new forced labour claims over Eritrean mine – by Karen McVeigh (The Guardian – October 14, 2016)

Dozens of Eritreans are to join a groundbreaking civil action in Canada as plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Nevsun Resources, which majority-owns the Bisha mine in north-west Eritrea, following a ruling last week.

Two of them – Kadane, a security guard, and Aman, an administrator – spoke out for the first time about what they claim they experienced at the mine: forced labour, horrendous working conditions and a climate of fear and intimidation.

“The mine was like an open prison,” Kadane told the Guardian. “They can take you and do what they want with you. I was owned by them. We were like objects for the government and for foreign companies to do with us what they wanted.”

Kadane claims he was forced to work in a majority-Canadian-owned mine in Eritrea during his time as an army conscript. According to his lawyers, he is one of dozens of Eritreans who will be joining a historic civil action in Canada as plaintiffs against Nevsun Resources, which owns and operates the majority of the Bisha gold, copper and zinc mine.
Lawyers representing the group have said it is the first time foreign claimants have been able to file a lawsuit in Canada against a Canadian company over alleged human rights abuses abroad.

Kadane and Aman spoke on condition that their identities and whereabouts were not revealed, due to fears their families may be targeted back in Eritrea. They have been granted refugee status in a European country.

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