Blog Entry

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to Hear about Canadian Government’s Role in Mining Abuses

Jen Moore

Latin America Program Coordinator / Coordinadora del programa para América Latina, 2010-2018.

The 149th Session of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Washington DC this Friday will hear from delegates from Colombia, Honduras, Peru, Chile and Brazil about the negative impacts of Canadian mining activities in the region, highlighting the Canadian government’s role.

The Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF) indicates that this is the first time the Commission will address the responsibility of the “home state” – or state of origin – of mining companies, rather than focusing on the responsibility of the states where companies are operating.

Special concern will be raised about how Canadian government representatives have intervened in the creation or reform of laws in other countries without respect for what mining-affected communities have been calling for.

The most recent example is in Honduras, where the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and the former Canadian International Development Agency – now lumped together as the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development – actively supported development of a new mining law following a military-backed coup and in the midst of frequent, targeted violence against communities, lawyers, journalists and activists. The mining law, which passed in January 2013, lifted a seven-year moratorium on new mining projects and is a major step backwards from an earlier proposed mining bill that had strong civil society participation. This earlier bill would have banned open pit mining and given communities a more decisive say over mining activities on their lands. It was never debated as a result of the coup.

The delegation will also make mention of specific cases, including irregularities in the conflict over Barrick Gold’s Pascua Lama project on the border between Chile and Argentina, and Canada’s responsibility for favouring mining interests in Chile while failing to promote respect of human rights on the part of Canadian companies.

The delegation will call for the creation of effective mechanisms for judicial access for victims in home countries, echoing the Open for Justice campaign that the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability (CNCA) launched last week.

Tune into the hearing webcast at 3:15pm EST on November 1, 2013 here.