Supreme Court clears way for lawsuit by mine protesters in Guatemala
OTTAWA — Another roadblock has been lifted for seven protesters hurt outside a Guatemalan mine who want to pursue a lawsuit in British Columbia against a company registered in the province.
The Supreme Court of Canada refused Thursday to hear a challenge from Tahoe Resources Inc. (TSX:THO) about the venue for the civil claim.
The men launched their claim in B.C. Supreme Court against Tahoe Resources after security guards sprayed protesters with rubber bullets outside the Escobal mine in 2013.
The Guatemalan citizens had argued the case should be heard in B.C. because they had no faith that their country's legal system would hold the company accountable.
Tahoe asked the court to decline jurisdiction and a judge ruled that Guatemala was clearly the more appropriate forum for the suit.
The B.C. Court of Appeal overturned that decision earlier this year and, as usual, the Supreme Court gave no reasons today for refusing to hear the case.
The latest ruling was welcomed by supporters of the Guatemalan plaintiffs.
“Victims of abuses linked to Canadian companies operating abroad deserve justice in Canada,” Amanda Ghahremani, legal director of the Canadian Centre for International Justice, said in a statement.
“We are thrilled that the country's highest court is allowing this important case to go to trial.”
Joe Fiorante, a partner with Vancouver law firm Camp Fiorante Matthews Mogerman, which is supporting the men, said he's glad they will be able to pursue their case in Canada.
“We have always believed that British Columbia is the appropriate forum for this case,” Fiorante said.
Tahoe operates the Escobal silver mine in Guatemala, the La Arena and Shahuindo gold mines in Peru and the Timmins West and Bell Creek gold mines in Canada.
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