West African court finds Guinea responsible for 2012 mine site killings

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - West Africa's top court held Guinea responsible on Tuesday for the killing of six villagers and the wrongful arrest, injury or torture of 15 others at a 2012 protest near an iron-ore mine project owned by Brazil's Vale and an Israeli billionaire. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court ruled that Guinea violated the protesters' human rights, and ordered the state to pay the plaintiffs total damages of 4.56 billion Guinean francs, or $463,000.

Reuters November 11, 2020 00:06:01 IST
West African court finds Guinea responsible for 2012 mine site killings

West African court finds Guinea responsible for 2012 mine site killings

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - West Africa's top court held Guinea responsible on Tuesday for the killing of six villagers and the wrongful arrest, injury or torture of 15 others at a 2012 protest near an iron-ore mine project owned by Brazil's Vale and an Israeli billionaire.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court ruled that Guinea violated the protesters' human rights, and ordered the state to pay the plaintiffs total damages of 4.56 billion Guinean francs, or $463,000. It also ordered the state to cover the costs of the litigation.

"Guinea violated the right to life, the right not to be subject to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment, the right not to be arrested or detained arbitrarily, and the right to effective recourse," said Justice Gberi-Bé Ouattara, reading the court's ruling.

Guinea's mines minister did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Guinea had argued during the case that the state did not order the security forces to kill or torture protesters, and therefore bore no responsibility for the deaths.

On Aug. 3, 2012, Guinea sent troops and police to a site near the mining project controlled by VBG, a joint venture between Vale and billionaire Beny Steinmetz's BSG Resources (BSGR), after residents of nearby village Zogota staged a sit-in.

In the early hours of the following day security forces opened fire. Some protesters who survived were later tortured in custody.

"Everyone is rejoicing today because compensation is going to help people re-establish their lives," said Jonathan Kaufman, executive director of Ghana-based Advocates for Community Alternatives, which joined the lawsuit alongside the victims.

"What the plaintiffs and the remainder of the community have been crying out for for eight years is justice... in that sense the court gave them everything they were asking for."

Vale, the world's largest iron ore producer, denied blame for the unrest: "Vale states that it never supported any form of violence at Zogota," a spokeswoman said in a written statement when asked to comment on the court ruling.

"In 2012, the VBG encampment was invaded by protesters and its installations were damaged. For reasons of security, employees were removed in an orderly fashion, safeguarding the physical integrity of the entire team. Thereafter, VBG complied with its duty of informing the local authorities," she said.

When asked to comment, a spokesman for BSGR referred Reuters back to Vale, which operated the site at the time.

(Reporting by Helen Reid, Additional reporting by Bate Felix in Dakar, Saliou Samb in Conakry, Gram Slattery in Rio de Janeiro; Editing by Peter Graff)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.