In response to an Australian Broadcasting Corporation program(i), non-governmental organizations in the United Kingdom, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Canada are calling on the Canadian Government to fully investigate serious allegations concerning Anvil Mining's complicity in the actions of the Congolese Armed Forces in putting down a small-scale rebellion in the remote Congolese town of Kilwa with what was reported as disproportionate force.
UK-based Rights & Accountability in Development (RAID)(ii), the Congolese human rights organisations Action contre l'impunité pour les droits humains (ACIDH) and Association africaine de défense des droits de l'homme section du Katanga (ASADHO Katanga), are supported by the Canadian organizations Entraide Missionnaire, MiningWatch Canada, Regroupement pour la responsabilité sociale des entreprises, and Africafiles in calling for a full investigation.
In October 2004, according to eyewitness accounts gathered by human rights lawyers, the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) ruthlessly suppressed a small scale uprising in the remote fishing town of Kilwa(iii) by a hitherto unknown group calling itself the Mouvement Revolutionnaire pour la libération du Katanga (Revolutionary Movement for the Liberation of Katanga, MRLK). Although the rebels put up no resistance when soldiers from the 62nd Brigade of the 6th Military Region arrived to recapture the town, between 70 and 100 unarmed civilians were killed, including many women and children. The soldiers are said to have been on an indiscriminate rampage carrying out arbitrary arrests and summary killings of suspected rebels and their supporters and subjecting those in detention to torture and beatings.(iv)
Anvil Mining Limited is a Canadian company incorporated in the Northwest Territories on January 2004 and listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange since June 2004 (TSX:AVM). First Quantum Minerals, a Canadian company also listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX:FM), was, at the time of the event, the largest shareholder in Anvil Mining with an 18.6% stake until March 2005, and its representative was Chair of Anvil's board of directors. The company operates the Dikulushi Mine near Kilwa and has acknowledged that it provided logistical support to the Government troops upon their request. The town is difficult to get to by road so Anvil planes were used to fly in soldiers from the provincial capital of Lubumbashi. At the end of May 2005, lawyers acting on RAID's behalf interviewed survivors. They confirmed that Anvil had also provided ground transportation to assist in the military assault on the town; the vehicles were also used to transport people who had been arbitrarily detained and to help remove corpses after the devastating military operation. Anvil denies knowing what was planned for in the military operation or being involved in it in any way. However, the organizations calling for the investigation believe that companies that operate in conflict zones have a responsibility to ensure that their operations or those that they support do not result directly or indirectly in human rights violations(v).
In view of this, surely there are sufficient grounds to question and investigate the role played by Anvil in the Kilwa massacre. Pointing to the failure of governments to investigate the UN's allegations of corporate misconduct in their operations in the DRC during the resource-fuelled war, the concerned organizations said that decisive action had to be taken now to curb any possible actions or neglects by companies that could contribute to the Congo sliding back into war.(vi)
Canadian organizations support these demands and further request that:
- the Canadian government undertake a thorough investigation of the allegations in the report. If the allegations are verified by the investigation, those responsible should be prosecuted through Canadian or international law. The Canadian National Contact Point (NCP) for the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises, formed by representatives from several federal government departments, should be mandated to conduct the inquiry with the input from NGOs.
- the Ontario Securities Commission and Toronto Stock Exchange should also inquire into these allegations which, if true, would pose a risk to Canadian investors;
- Prime Minister Paul Martin should promote at the G8 Summit in July, the recommendation related to peace and security contained in the Report of the Commission for Africa, endorsed by Finance Minister Ralph Goodale, relating to peace and security: "OECD countries should promote the development and full implementation of clear and comprehensive guidelines for companies operating in areas at risk of violent conflict, for incorporation into the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises."(vii)
For more information:
- Mining Watch Canada: Jamie Kneen, cell (613) 761-2273
- Entraide missionnaire: Denis Tougas tel. (514) 270-6089
Note for Journalists
Sally Neighbour, the producer of the Australian Broadcasting Company's Four Corners program about Anvil Mining and the Kilwa Massacre is happy to provide media with footage from the program to accompany the article. Tel. (02) 8333-4750; Fax (02) 8333-4755; e-mail: [email protected]
i "Four Corners" broadcast Monday June 6 - consult http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/content/2005/s1384238.htm
ii RAID is a research and advocacy NGO that works on the links between human rights and development and business. It coordinates the international NGO network, OECD WATCH, which promotes corporate accountability by the implementation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Patricia Feeney also helps moderate the corporate accountability list-serve for the International Network on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In June 2004, RAID brought out a report, Unanswered Questions: Companies, conflict and the Democratic Republic of Congo that analysed the UN Expert Panel's allegations against over 40 OECD companies.
iii Kilwa is on Lake Moero, in the territory of Pweto in Upper Katanga, just 50 km from Zambia. It is 350 km from Lubumbashi. It has a population of 6,000 who mainly live from fishing.
iv ASADHO Katanga, Rapport sur les violations des droits de l'homme commises à Kilwa au mois d'octobre 2004, January 2005
v This principle is also recognized in the UN Global Compact, which states: Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of human rights within their sphere of influence; and principle 2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights violations.
vi Reports of the UN Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. October 2002 (S/2002/1146) and October 2003 (S/2003/1027) available at: http://www.un.org/Docs/sc/letters/2002/sglet02.htm and http://www.un.org/Docs/sc/unsc_presandsg_letters03.html
vii Report of the Commission for Africa - Our Common Interest, 2005, p. 174.