MAC: Mines and Communities

Canadian Miner Being Sued for Violent Death of Community Leader

Published by MAC on 2010-12-13
Source: Miningwatch Canada (2010-12-02)

Award Winning Mining Company Being Sued for Violent Death of Community Leader:
Industry Out of Step with Canadian Values and Expectations

Miningwatch Canada

2 December 2010

Ottawa, Ontario - A recently announced lawsuit against HudBay Minerals Inc. points to the industry's failure to take responsibility for corporate abuses beyond Canadian borders. Paradoxically, the company recently won an award for Corporate Social Responsibility from the Mining Association of Canada.

Press conference for legal case against HudBay
Choc v. Hudbay Minerals, seeking justice for Adolfo Ich's murder
Photo:  James Rodriguez


Toronto-based HudBay and two of its subsidiaries are being sued for the death of Adolfo Ich Chamán, who was hacked and shot to death by private security forces employed at the company's nickel mining project in eastern Guatemala on September 27th 2009.

Rights Action and Klippenstein's law firm announced the lawsuit during concurrent press conferences in Toronto and Guatemala City on Wednesday.

Angelica Choc, Adolfo's wife and mother of five children, is seeking justice on behalf of her husband who was a known critic of the harms and human rights abuses associated with mining activities in their community near the town of El Estor, Guatemala.

HudBay was among this year's winners of the Mining Association of Canada's "Toward Sustainable Mining" awards for 2009. The awards were presented last week during MAC's annual lobby day Mining Day on the Hill.

In a press release, MAC stated that its Toward Sustainable Mining (TSM) initiative has been developed "to improve the industry's performance by aligning its actions with the priorities and values of Canadians."

But the lawsuit against HudBay, together with concerns about the impacts that this and other award winning companies are having here in Canada, highlights the question of what Canadian priorities and values the industry is aligning itself with.

Until its recent closure, HudBay's smelter in Flin Flon, Manitoba, was one of Canada's dirtiest industrial facilities. It was the country's largest single source of toxic metals such as lead, arsenic cadmium and mercury, and of acid-rain causing sulphur dioxide.

Another award winner, Vale, is a Brazilian company that bought out the Canadian company Inco in 2006. Vale has since earned an anti-labour reputation for the record-breaking prolonged strikes at its Sudbury and Voisey's Bay operations. The Sudbury strike lasted a year and the Voisey's Bay strike continues into its seventeenth month.

Teck Resources Inc. was also an award winner. Its Red Dog mine in Alaska has caused serious pollution issues and been the subject of legal challenges from local communities. In October of this year the company reported a significant mercury release from its smelting facility in Trail, BC.

The Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) was another MAC award winner. In a recent press release concerning ongoing mineral developments in their territory, the Innu of Uashat mak Mani-Utenam stated, "The IOC caused - without our consent - serious and permanent damage to the integrity of the traditional lands of the Uashaunnuat, and these damages were never repaired.".

The domestic and international records of its award winners show that the industry is not in touch with Canadian values and expectations. Another demonstration of this was the leading role MAC played in a powerful lobby against Bill C-300. The industry group said that the bill, which sought to improve government oversight of the Canadian extractive industry overseas and which was narrowly defeated in Parliament on October 27th, would "have damaged Canada's exploration and mining industry."

But the evidence of poor performance at home and abroad, combined with the industry's opposition to mechanisms that could involve sanctions or legal accountability, are the real threat to Canada's reputation.

Contact:

Ramsey Hart, Canada Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada
Tel: (613) 569-3439

MiningWatch Canada is a pan-Canadian initiative supported by environmental, social justice, Aboriginal and labour organisations from across the country. It addresses the urgent need for a co-ordinated public interest response to the threats to public health, water and air quality, fish and wildlife habitat and community interests posed by irresponsible mineral policies and practices in Canada and around the world.


Announcement of Lawsuit in Canada Against Mining Company Relating to Killing of Mayan Leader

http://www.chocversushudbay.com/

1 December 2010

Toronto, Canada and Guatemala City, Guatemala: Angelica Choc and her lawyers announced today a lawsuit against Canadian mining company HudBay Minerals Inc. relating to the killing of her husband, Adolfo Ich Chamán. On September 27, 2009, Adolfo Ich, a respected Mayan Q'eqchi' community leader and an outspoken critic of harms and rights violations caused by mining activities in his community, was hacked and shot to death by security forces employed at HudBay Minerals' Fenix Mining Project in an unprovoked attack near the town of El Estor, Guatemala.

Adolfo's widow has brought a lawsuit in Ontario courts to seek accountability for his death. The lawsuit claims $2 million in general damages and $10 million in punitive damages and is brought against Canadian companies HudBay Minerals Inc. and HMI Nickel Inc., as well as their Guatemalan subsidiary, Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel ("CGN").

Adolfo's murder was brutal. Mining security forces recognized Adolfo as a community leader, surrounded him, beat him and hacked at him with machetes before shooting him in the head at close range.

"I believe my husband was killed because he spoke out about the rights violations caused by Canadian mining in Guatemala," said Adolfo Ich's widow, Angelica Choc. "I believe he was killed because he was encouraging communities to stay united against the harmful practices of the mining company."

Angelica Choc has brought the lawsuit in Canada because of the strong connections between the mining project and Canada.

"The bullet that killed Adolfo was shot in Guatemala, but the decisions that ultimately led to Adolfo's death were made in Canada," said Murray Klippenstein, lawyer for Angelica Choc. "HudBay Minerals' head office is a mere five blocks away from the Canadian court where the case will be heard."

Because Guatemala suffers from very high rates of impunity, there is little chance that Angelica Choc could get justice in Guatemala. In 2005, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Execution stated that "Guatemala is a good place to commit a murder, because you will almost certainly get away with it." In 2009, the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala reported that "the impunity rate in Guatemala amounted to some 98 per cent, with only 2 out of every 100 cases actually going to court."

The claim represents assertions that have not yet been proven in court. All defendants will have the opportunity to respond in these proceedings.For more information, see http://www.chocversushudbay.com

KLIPPENSTEINS
Barristers & Solicitors
160 John Street, Suite 300
Toronto, Ontario M5V 2E5
Canada

Murray Klippenstein
Cory Wanless
Tel: 1-416-598-0288
Fax: 1-416-598-9520
Lawyers for Angelica Choc

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