MAC: Mines and Communities

Formal Human Rights Complaint re HudBay in Guatemala

Published by MAC on 2010-07-17
Source: Rights Action

A high-level Canadian civil society investigation into alleged grievous human rights abuses at a nickel mine in Guatemala in 2007 has confirmed that local people were viciously attacked by police and mine security, forcibly evicted from their homes, and that several women were raped.

Although the accusations were submitted to the Canadian ambassador in Guatemala back in May, no response had been received. Now Canada's foreign minister has been urged to carry out its own investigation into the charges.

The company responsible for operating the mine is HudBay (formerly Skye Resources) which is part-owned by Vedanta Resources plc in London.



Formal Human Rights Complaint to Canadian Government: Canadian Nickel Company Linked to Serious Human Rights Violations - including Gang Rapes - in Guatemala

To: Mr. Lawrence Cannon
Minister of Foreign Affairs
509-S Centre Block,
House of Commons,
Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A6, Canada

5 July, 2010

Dear Minister Cannon,

On behalf of the University of Northern British Columbia's 2010 Guatemala Delegation & Rights Action, we are formally submitting a human rights violation complaint with the Canadian Government. We submitted an earlier version of this complaint to the Canadian Embassy in Guatemala on May 25th, 2010 but have not received a reply. Therefore, we now submit this document to you directly.

As Canadian citizens we strongly request your immediate attention to the following issues surrounding the forced evictions of the Guatemalan Q'eqchi' community of "Lote 8" near El Estor, Izabal, and the gang-rape of at least five women in this community.

These human rights violations were committed by the Guatemalan army and police, and private security guards in the direct employ of the Canadian mining company HudBay Minerals Inc., formerly known as Skye Resources, and its subsidiary, Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel (CGN).

On May 19, 2010, 11 Canadian delegates (signatories as noted below) collected the testimonies of "Lote 8" community members and accounted for the following human rights violations. The community allowed the UNBC students and Rights Action, a Canadian-American NGO with years of work in Guatemala, to collect their testimonies upon our arrival. It must be understood that the community indicated to us that these testimonies were one of the first public recounting of their shared experiences.

JANUARY 9TH 2007 - Hundreds of police/military soldiers/Skye Resources private security agents (who arrived in at least 80 pickup trucks, 2 commando trucks of military soldiers, and 3 private CGN trucks of private security) entered the remote community of Lote 8 in 85 vehicles with the intent of illegally and forcibly evicting the inhabitants. Community members were given 5 minutes to retrieve belongings and offered 300 Quetzales to destroy their own homes. Upon peaceful refusal, police/military soldiers and Skye Resources private security forces started shooting teargas, robbed homes, and set residences on fire with gasoline. In total 100 homes were destroyed. The villagers-from Grandparents to newborns-were forced to flee into the forests. All of their belongings, including clothes, bedding, food, cooking implements, etc, were either destroyed or stolen. With absolutely nowhere to go, the 100 families of Lote 8 spent the next week re-building minimal shelter, while scrounging for food and trying to recover some of the subsistence crops. During this week, Skye Resources helicopters regularly flew over their remote community.

JANUARY 17TH 2007 - Hundreds of police/military soldiers/Skye Resources private security agents again returned to the community to illegally and forcibly evict the community while male residents were away from Lote 8. They carried out the same plan of destruction as on January 9th. Moreover, members of the police/ military soldiers/ Skye Resources private security gang-raped female community members. At least two of the victims were pregnant at the time, and lost their babies due to the rapes and brutality.

The Canadian delegates took photographic, video and audio testimonies of 5 women who were raped and physically assaulted, and of multiple community members who recounted the two traumatic evictions carried out, they allege, on behalf of Skye Resources.

Based on the United Nation's Universal Declarations of Human Rights and Freedoms the Act guarantees:

Article 3 - The rights to life, liberty and security of person;

Article 5 - No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment;

Article 6 - The right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Though the UNBC and Rights Action concentrated our efforts on the most remote community of Lote 8, similar serious charges-including rape-have been made against the police, army, and private security guards that were carrying out the violent and illegal forced evictions in at least four other communities in 2006 and early 2007.

As Canadian citizens, we respectfully demand concrete actions from the Canadian Embassy Government on these human rights violations against the Guatemalan Community of Lote 8, as well as the other affected communities. Specifically, we demand that:

- the Canadian Government carry out a full and impartial investigation into these allegations;

- that the Canadian Government notify the appropriate Guatemalan authorities of these extremely serious charges and of the Canadian Government's independent investigation;

- that, with the community's consent, international accompaniers are provided to ensure that the community is not subject to retribution during the investigation;

- that the findings of the Canadian government's impartial investigation be made known publicly;

- that the investigation provide a summary about the human rights violations and property destruction suffered by the Lote 8 community, as well as the other five Maya Q'eqchi' communities that suffered similar illegal and forced evictions around the same time;

- that the investigation provide conclusions and recommendations with respect to the actions and/or omissions of the Government of Guatemala, and the Guatemalan security forces, and with respect to Skye Resources (now HudBay Minerals) and the company's security forces; and

- that the investigation set out what reparations and compensation ought to be paid and made to the victims.

We believe the Canadian Government must carry out this investigation, based on the fact that: (1) the very authorities responsible for ensuring justice in Guatemala - the police and the military - were the perpetrators; (2) that the owners of the Guatemalan Nickel Company-then Skye Resources, now HudBay Minerals-are Canadian companies; and (3) that the Canadian government has played a proactive role in supporting the expansion of Canadian companies into Guatemala.

We ask that this formal complaint of human rights violations be taken with great seriousness and entrust that the Canadian Government will take every means necessary to ensure that the perpetrators of these human rights violations be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and that full reparations and compensation be made to the victims of these crimes.

We look forward to hearing back from you about this serious human rights matter. We have extensive knowledge about the violations and harms caused by nickel mining interests in the El Estor region and would gladly share it with you.


Dr. Catherine Nolin
Associate Professor of Geography UNBC
3333 University Way,
Prince George, BC, V2N 4Z9
(250) 961-5875

Grahame Russell
Rights Action
552-351 Queen St. E,
Toronto, ON, M5A0in8
(860) 352-2448

Claudette Bois
Natural Resources and Environmental Studies (NRES) PhD Candidate UNBC
3333 University Way, Prince George, BC, V2N 4Z9
(250) 960-5934

Nathan Einbinder
MA NRES Candidate UNBC
3333 University Way, Prince George, BC, V2N 4Z9
(619) 922-2996

John-Paul Laplante
B.Sc, B.I.T.
MA NRES Candidate UNBC
3333 University Way, Prince George, BC, V2N 4Z9
(250) 960-4348

Alexandra Pedersen
B.A. International Development
MA International Studies Candidate UNBC
3333 University Way, Prince George, BC, V2N 4Z9
(250) 964-2603

Dana Pidherny
B.A Georgraphy UNBC
3333 University Way, Prince George, BC, V2N 4Z9
(250) 617-0731

Ashley Gill
B.A Geography Student UNBC
1434 Diefenbaker Drive, Prince George, BC, V2L 5A4
(250) 563-5215

Erica Henderson
B.A General Studies Student UNBC
2445 Panorama Crescent, Prince George, BC, V2K 4T9
(250) 962-4650

Stephen John Porter
B.A Geography Student UNBC
6349 Driftwood Place, Prince George, BC, V2K 5B3
(250) 962-0816

Miranda Seymour
B.A Geography Student UNBC
1918-B Vine Street, Prince George, BC, V2L 2W8
(250) 562-8552


Ambassador Leeann McKechnie
Canadian Ambassador to Guatemala
Canadian Embassy, Guatemala City
Edyma Plaza Building, 8th floor
13 Calle 8-44 Zona 10
(502) 2363-4348

Dr. Marketa Evans
Extractive Sector CSR Counsellor
Office of the Extractive Sector CSR Counsellor
Suite 5110, 1 Front Street, Toronto, ON M5J 2X5
Fax: (416) 973-2140

Hon. John McKay, MP
Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development,
Ottawa, ON
(613) 992-1447

Peter Julian, MP
NDP International Trade Critic, Rm 178, Confederation Bldg.,
Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A6

Peter Kent, MP
Minister of State of Foreign Affairs
125 Sussex Dr, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0G2
(613) 992-0253

Dr. James Lambert
Director General, Latin America and Caribbean Bureau, DFAIT

Canada Pension Plan (CPP), that has $30,000,000 of pension funds invested in HudBay Minerals
CPP Investment Board: 416-868-4075, 1-866-557-9510
Lisa A. Baiton, MBA, VP, Stakeholder & Government Relations, CPPIB, 1-416-868-6612

* * *

Grahame Russell, Rights Action, 1-860-352-2448
Dr. Catherine Nolin, Associate Professor of Geography, University of Northern British Colombia, (250) 961-5875

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