(Guatemala City/Oakland/Toronto/Ottawa/Tatamagouche) – While a civil lawsuit moves forward in British Columbia courts against Tahoe Resources for violence at its Escobal mine in Guatemala, advocacy organizations are calling on BC securities regulators to investigate the company for failure to disclose material information relating to community opposition and human rights violations in the same area.
The Justice and Corporate Accountability Project (JCAP), based in Canada, has submitted a thirty-seven-page report to the British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) on behalf of the US-based Network in Solidarity with Guatemala (NISGUA), the Canada-based organizations Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network (BTS), MiningWatch Canada, and the Guatemala-based Diocesan Committee in Defence of Nature (CODIDENA).
The report asks the BCSC to determine whether Tahoe has failed to meet legal requirements for disclosing human rights abuses and failed to disclose lawsuits that impact the Escobal mine, central to Tahoe’s operations. Tahoe claims strong community support for its Guatemala mine, but the JCAP report highlights Tahoe’s annual report, which shows that opposition is so severe that the company was prevented from connecting to the main power grid. The BCSC is being asked to determine whether Tahoe failed to disclose known events or uncertainties that are likely to have an effect on Tahoe’s business.
“Human rights violations have been persistently committed against communities surrounding the Escobal mine, a project implemented without community consent,” says Lisa Rankin, who coordinates BTS’ work in Guatemala. “Over and over, based on our accompaniment work with communities, we have denounced the violence, threats and criminalization carried out against community members.”
Tahoe denies responsibility for the threats and deaths surrounding its Guatemala mine. However, a group of farmers who were shot by Tahoe’s private security guards in April 2013 are suing Tahoe in a precedent-setting case in British Columbia. In January, the B.C. Court of Appeals decided that Canada is the best place for the case to be heard.
“Behind the scenes, Tahoe and mining supporters have brought lawsuits forward in Guatemala to try to stop communities from holding referenda on mining and to demand government protection from protesters upset with the project,” remarks Jen Moore for MiningWatch Canada. “Tahoe has failed to disclose these lawsuits and the level of community opposition to the Escobal mine, and it’s important that BC regulators look into this.”
In January 2015, Norway’s $850 billion Government Pension Fund divested from Tahoe after conducting an investigation, concluding that Tahoe has and will likely continue to pose “an unacceptable risk of…contributing to serious human rights violations.” Similarly, Tahoe recently appeared on a list issued by the Dutch Pension Fund, Pensioenfonds PGB, of companies that the fund excludes from its investment portfolio. The basis for the exclusion is “human rights violations in Guatemala.”
For additional information or to arrange an interview contact:
- Shin Imai, lawyer (English or Spanish), Justice and Corporate Accountability Project, simai[at]justice-project.org + 905-989-1327
- Becky Kaump (English or Spanish), Network in Solidarity with Guatemala, becky[at]nisgua.org +502 5575 2058
- Moisés Divas Santos, Director (Spanish only), Consejo Diocesano en Defensa de la Naturaleza, xanpiya[at]gmail.com +502 5158 3503
- Jennifer Moore (English or Spanish), MiningWatch Canada, jen[at]miningwatch.ca, +613 722 0412
- Lisa Rankin (English or Spanish), Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network, btscoordinator[at]gmail.com