release: November 8, 2010
Montreal, Canada. An association representing Congolese citizens
filed a class action today in a Montreal court against Canadian company Anvil
Mining Limited. It is alleged that the company, by providing logistical
assistance, played a role in human rights abuses, including the massacre by the
Congolese military of more than 70 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo
in 2004. The citizens have
brought the claim through an association of relatives of victims and survivors
which is supported by a coalition of Canadian, international and Congolese
case is now in Canada because Anvil is a Canadian company, and must be held
accountable for any role it played in
what were clear and egregious violations of human rights," said Matt
Eisenbrandt, Legal Coordinator of the Canadian Centre for International
"Every day is a struggle
to survive and we feel abandoned," said one of the group members, Dickay Kunda, whose father was badly beaten and tortured while in military custody.
Though released after six months, his father died in November 2009. "We have no
option but to turn to the international community for justice."
The group, the Canadian
Association against Impunity, alleges
that in October 2004 Anvil provided
trucks, drivers, and other logistical support to the Congolese military to help
them counter an attempt by a small group of rebels to take over the town of
Kilwa, a key port for Anvil's operations. In
the course of this operation, serious human rights violations were reportedly
perpetrated against the civilian population by the military. Anvil's vehicles transported Congolese soldiers, as well as civilians who
were allegedly taken outside the town and executed by the military. The
group also alleges that Anvil allowed soldiers to use planes leased by the
company to reach Kilwa from Lubumbashi, the capital of Katanga province.
material support enabled the Congolese army to reach the remote town of Kilwa
at top speed - where they then carried out widespread abuses against the
civilian population," said Tricia Feeney, Director of UK-based Rights and
Accountability in Development (RAID). Anvil Mining has denied any
allegations of wrongdoing and asserts that its logistical support was
requisitioned by the authorities.
Canadian action follows a controversial military
trial in the Congo. In 2006, a Congolese military prosecutor indicted nine
Congolese soldiers for war crimes, and three expatriate former employees of
Anvil for complicity in war crimes. Following numerous irregularities, in June
2007 the military tribunal acquitted all the defendants.
was profoundly disappointing that the heavily-politicised trial in Congo failed
to deliver justice for the victims. We hope that this case will set a precedent
and send a clear message to corporations that they cannot enjoy impunity if
they take part in, or benefit from, violent crimes," said Seema Joshi, Legal
Advisor at London-based Global Witness.
must continue to fight against impunity. The victims' families have never lost
hope of seeing justice being done," said Emmanuel
Umpula Nkumba, Executive Director of ACIDH, a Congolese advocacy group that has
been supporting the victims.
UN report published in August cited the Anvil case as a prime example of how
justice is often not done in the Congo. Less than two weeks ago, the House of Commons in Canada defeated legislation that would
have created a mechanism for individuals to complain about actions of Canadian
has been a long hard road to justice and we are not there yet", said Georges
Kapiamba, Vice president of Congolese organisation ASADHO, and the main lawyer
working with the families of the Kilwa victims and survivors in the Congo. "We
sincerely hope the Canadian courts will give the victims the hearing they
claimants are represented by the Montreal law firm Trudel and Johnston, which
specializes in class actions.
claim represents assertions that have not yet been proven in court. Anvil will
have the opportunity to respond in these proceedings.
more information, please contact:
Matt Eisenbrandt, Canadian
Centre for International Justice (CCIJ), (English): +1 613 218 9909 (in Canada)
Tricia Feeney, RAID,
(French, English): +44 (0) 7796178447 (in Canada) or
Goethals, RAID, (French, English): +44 (0) 7733 362 459 (in the UK)
Seema Joshi, Global
Witness, (English): +44 (0) 7912517126 (in Canada) or
Lambe, Global Witness, (English): +44 (0) 7809 616 545 (in the UK)
Georges Kapiamba, ASADHO,
(French): +243 814043641, +243 995404514 (in the DRC)
Emmanuel Umpula Nkumba,
ACIDH, (French): +243 997 025 331 (in the DRC)
ASADHO(French): +243 815 090 462 (in the DRC)
1. Members of the Canadian
Association against Impunity include Congolese citizens affected by the events
which unfolded in Kilwa in October 2004.
Representatives of the organisations RAID, ACIDH, Global Witness and
CCIJ, act as Board Members of this association.
2. Additional press
materials include: a timeline, backgrounder and document titled Kilwa Trial: A Denial of Justice, A Chronology
October 2004-July 2007 which can be
3. A discussion
event on the class action will be held in London, UK, on November 18th,
2010. Please contact RAID or Global Witness for more details.
4. UN Office of the
High Commissioner for Human Rights, "Report of the Mapping Exercise documenting
the most serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law
committed within the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo between
March 1993 and June 2003", August 2010.
global study released in October found that Canadian mining companies were
involved in more environmental, human rights and other abuses than companies
from other countries. For more information on
the global study see: "Corporate Social Responsibility: Movements and
Footprints of Canadian Mining and Exploration Firms in the Developing World,"
Canadian Centre for the Study of Resource Conflict, October 2009 accessible at:
Mining admits having given "logistical support" in the form of the use of its
chartered planes, vehicles and drivers to enable the military to gain access to
Kilwa to quell a minor uprising that occurred in October 2004. In
2005 Anvil stated that it was compelled to provide this assistance. In June
2007 Anvil Mining's employees and nine Congolese soldiers were found not guilty
of war crimes or other crimes relating to the incident. The Congolese military
court accepted Anvil Mining's defence that it had acted in the framework of a
requisition from the Governor of Katanga.
For more information about the case