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Nevsun Resources loses B.C. appeal to move human rights lawsuit to Eritrea

Last Updated Nov 21, 2017 at 6:20 pm EST

VANCOUVER – The British Columbia Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal by Nevsun Resources (TSX:NSU) to have a human rights case against the miner moved to the Eritrea.

The case, brought forward by three Eritrean refugees, alleges that international law norms against forced labour, slavery and torture were violated during the construction of Nevsun’s Bisha mine in the East African country.

Nevsun has argued that the case should be heard in Eritrea, but the B.C. Court of Appeal has upheld last year’s ruling by the B.C. Supreme Court that since Nevsun was a B.C. company, the province’s court had territorial jurisdiction.

The appeal court said that while the practical and logistical difficulties of trying these claims in B.C. would be considerable, last year’s ruling was not wrong in finding that there was a real risk of corruption and unfairness in hearing the case in Eritrea.

The company declined to comment on the lawsuit because it’s still before the court, but said in an email that the Bisha Mine, which is 40 per cent owned by the Eritrean government, is committed to safe and responsible operations.

The allegations against the company, which have not been proven in court, include that the company must have been aware of credible reports of abuses by the government, and that it allegedly facilitated forced labour by entering into a commercial relationship with the Eritrean regime.