Members of the indigenous Mayan Q’eqchi’ population from El Estor, Guatemala are pursuing three related precedent-setting lawsuits in Canadian courts against Canadian mining company HudBay Minerals over human rights abuses at HudBay’s former Fenix mining project in Guatemala. These cases are the first of their kind in Canada. Key developments.
Angelica Choc v. HudBay Minerals Inc. regarding the brutal killing of Adolfo Ich, a respected community leader and school teacher who was hacked with machetes and shot in the head by mine company security personnel on Sept. 27, 2009. Learn more. Read the legal claim.
Margarita Caal Caal v. HudBay Minerals Inc. regarding the gang-rape of 11 women from Lote Ocho by mining company security personnel, police and military during the forced eviction of their village and families from their ancestral lands on Jan. 17, 2007.1 Learn more. Read the legal claims. Learn more. Read the legal claim.
The plaintiffs are represented by Toronto law firm Klippensteins Barristers and Solicitors: www.klippensteins.ca.
Sept. 2010 – Sept. 2011 – the plaintiffs file three related lawsuits against HudBay Minerals in the Superior Court of Justice in Ontario seeking reparations for shootings, murder and gang-rapes alleged to have been committed by mine company security personnel at HudBay’s Fenix mine in Guatemala.
Aug. 2011 – HudBay sells the troubled Fenix mine to a Russian company at a loss of $290 million. This huge loss appears to have been the price HudBay paid for speculating on a Guatemalan mine that was beset by severe human rights abuse and risks of further abuse. HudBay retains liability in spite of the sale and the lawsuits continue in Canadian courts. Read more.
Sept. 2012 – After almost three years as a fugitive from justice, Mynor Padilla, the former chief of security for the Fenix mine is finally arrested by Guatemalan authorities on charges of murder and attempted murder in the killing of Adolfo Ich and the shooting of German Chub. HudBay’s subsidiary continued to employ and pay Mr. Padilla while he was a fugitive from justice. Read more.
Nov. 2012 – Rosa, Margarita, German and Angelica travel to Toronto to testify regarding abuses suffered by them. Each show remarkable dignity and strength as they face extensive full-day cross-examination by HudBay’s lawyers. Rosa and Margarita demonstrate particular courage as they testified through a Q’eqchi’ interpreter regarding the destruction and burning of their homes and their village, and the rapes suffered by them. CBC The National, “The Long Road”.
Feb. 2013 – after arguing for over two years that the lawsuits should not be heard in Canada, HudBay abruptly abandons this legal argument and concedes the lawsuits can be heard in Canadian courts, just before an Ontario court was set to determine the issue. Read more.
July 2013 – In a precedent-setting judgment, an Ontario court rules that HudBay can potentially be held legally responsible in Canada for the shootings, murder and gang-rape that occurred at HudBay’s Fenix mining project in Guatemala. In light of the court’s ruling, Canadian mining corporations can no longer hide behind their legal corporate structure to abdicate responsibility for human rights abuses that take place at foreign mines under their control. Read more. Read the judgment.
May 2014 – Oct. 2014 – HudBay files statements of defence which contain paragraphs that are abusive and violate the basic legal rules of pleading prompting the plaintiffs to challenge HudBay’s statements of defence in court. The court agrees that several paragraphs are improper and orders HudBay to file new and proper statements of defence.
Apr. 2015 – After many years of procedural delay and attempts to evade justice, the criminal trial against Mynor Padilla for the murder of Adolfo Ich and the shooting of German Chub finally begins in Puerto Barrios, Guatemala. The victims and their families are pleased that the trial is underway, but, because of ongoing and severe problems with Guatemala’s justice system, they remain sceptical about the prospects of real justice in Guatemala.
May 2015 – Angelica, German and Rosa travel to Toronto to speak directly to HudBay’s directors and shareholders and the Canadian public about the lawsuit and to confront false accusations made publicly by HudBay. Read Angelica Choc’s statement delivered to HudBay’s directors and shareholders at its Annual General Meeting on May 22, 2015. CBC The National, Guatemalan villagers counter HudBay’s denials
June 2015 – The plaintiffs return to court and successfully force HudBay to disclose extensive internal corporate documentation. By court order, HudBay now has to turn over a very large number of confidential internal company documents and communications, which lawyers for the plaintiffs believe will show that the company is in fact and in law responsible for the devastating events in Guatemala. Read more. Read judgment.
1The forced eviction was sought by Canadian mining company Skye Resources. Skye Resources was bought by and later merged with HudBay Minerals. As a result of this merger, HudBay is legally responsible for all of the legal wrongs and liabilities of Skye Resources.