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A group of indigenous Mayan Q’eqchi’ have filed three civil lawsuits in Canada against HudBay Minerals Inc. of Toronto for alleged human rights atrocities committed by its subsidiaries – HMI Nickel, Skye Resources and Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel – at the company’s nickel mine in eastern Guatemala.
The outcome of this cross border lawsuit is being closely watched by human rights activists after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a case against Shell for aiding and abetting human rights abuses in Nigeria on the grounds that Shell did not have sufficient ties to the U.S.
However the Supreme Court decision left open the possibility that U.S. companies could be sued in U.S. courts for human rights abuses abroad. Thus a legal decision that allows Canadian companies to be sued in their home country, would also help fill the legal vacuum that multinationals have often taken advantage of historically to escape liability.