The Toronto Star reports, “(Toronto-based) HudBay Minerals Inc. has agreed to have lawsuits against it launched by Mayan villagers from Guatemala heard by a Canadian court. The villagers claim in their lawsuits that security staff from the mining company’s subsidiaries are to blame for alleged gang-rapes, injuries and a death in Guatemala. None of those claims have been proven in court. But Murray Klippenstein, lawyer for the villagers, said HudBay giving up on efforts to send the case to Guatemala represents a ‘breakthrough’ for the plaintiffs.”
“‘I think it’s a stunning victory for human rights. I think it’s historic,’ Klippenstein said, adding the location issue was argued by the company for more than a year. ‘It should send shockwaves through the boardrooms throughout Canada.’ …Osgoode Hall Law School professor Shin Imai said it will be historic if the cases are heard in Canada, no matter what the outcome. He said companies in previous similar cases have been successful in having proceedings sent to developing countries where the allegations are said to have occurred, often raising doubts about the fairness of the trial. ‘It seems like, at this point, they’re willing to let it go ahead in a court in Canada. So this is very big,’ he said.”
“Klippenstein said he has so far been unable to reach his clients with the news.”
His client’s include Angelica Choc whose husband Adolfo Ich, a Q’eqchi’ activist involved in land struggles, was shot and killed by private security guards employed by Hudbay Minerals in September 2009. The same day Ich was murdered, German Chub was shot (while watching a soccer match) by mine security and as a result lost the use of the lower part of his body. In 2007, Rosa Elbira and Margarita Caal Caal were gang-raped by mine security, police and military personnel during a forcible eviction from their lands claimed by Hudbay Minerals.
On November 28, 2012 Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow spoke in Toronto in support of these five people. Coverage of that from the CBC National News can be seen at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=18264. To read Barlow’s blog – ‘Council of Canadians committed to support challenge against Hudbay mining company’ – please go to http://canadians.org/blog/?p=18192. For more background, you can read ‘UPDATE: Barlow to speak in support of challenge against Hudbay Minerals in Toronto, Nov. 28′ at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=18123.
The news article adds, “Issues related to the suits will be heard in court next month, Klippenstein said, but a trial is still likely years away.”