MAC/20: Mines and Communities

US government opposes Bougainville lawsuit

Published by MAC on 2001-11-30


US government opposes Bougainville lawsuit

Pacific Beat, Radio Australia - 30 November 01

Bougainvillean landowners taking legal action against the mining giant Rio Tinto alleging genocide and environmental damage in operating the giant Panguna copper mine on the Papua New Guinea island have been dealt a blow by the US government. In what's being described as an unprecedented move, the US State Department has written to the judge hearing the case saying that if the class action suit goes ahead, it would affect US relations with PNG. The PNG government is trying to block the lawsuit, saying it could derail the peace process on Bougainville. The lawyer representing the Bougainvillean landowners, Steve Berman, says it's highly unusual for the US government to step into the legal process like this.

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