Law professor Shin Imai files suit against Canada’s foreign minister over redacted documents on mine in Guatemala

Published by Brent Patterson on

Communities affected by the Marlin mine demonstrate at the Canadian embassy in Guatemala City. Photo by Projet Accompagnement Québec Guatemala.

Canadian Lawyer magazine reports: “Osgoode Hall professor Shin Imai has filed suit against the federal foreign affairs minister contending that Canada has improperly withheld information about its diplomatic interventions on behalf of Goldcorp, a Canadian company accused of human rights abuse at its mine in Guatemala.”

The Goldcorp Marlin mine operated in northwestern Guatemala from 2005 to 2017.

Imai alleges that the federal government redacted information that Canadians have a right to see in documents that detail communications among Canadian officials, Guatemala, Goldcorp, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

The article adds: “The portions of the documents released suggest that Canadian officials quickly intervened on Goldcorp’s behalf, including through lobbying decision-makers in Guatemala and in the commission, the suit alleged.”

Imai says: “The Canadian government’s decision to go to court rather than disclose this additional information raises the question: what else did it do to support Goldcorp? The public should be able to scrutinize the government’s actions here, to assess the extent to which it undermined Indigenous communities’ efforts to defend their rights.”

Emily Dwyer of the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability adds: “Canadian officials including ambassadors and cabinet ministers went to great lengths to present Goldcorp’s position to the Guatemalan government and the IACHR. We are concerned that Canadian officials may have tried to improperly influence decision makers.”

Three years ago, Imai also requested Canada’s public sector integrity commissioner to investigate events relating to the death of Mexican human rights defender Mariano Abarca Roblero who opposed Calgary-based Blackfire Exploration’s open-pit La Revancha barite mine in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas.

Abarca Roblero was killed on November 27, 2009.

Among Imai’s stated concerns: “The Canadian Embassy ignored warnings that Mr. Abarca’s life and safety were in danger, while actively advocating on the company’s behalf with the government of the State of Chiapas.”

MiningWatch Canada also highlighted: “Access-to-information requests showed that the embassy intervened with Mexican government officials to support the company even when it knew about conflict over Blackfire’s project in Chiapas, Mexico, including the risks that Mr. Abarca was facing.”

Peace Brigades International accompanies human rights defenders impacted by Canadian corporations in Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico.

PBI-Canada is following Professor Imai’s suit against the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs with great interest.

Professor Shin Imai.


1 Comment

Douglas Hewitt-White · March 17, 2021 at 7:39 pm

Back in ’82 Trudeau the First amalgamated Foreign Affairs with International Trade. Today who calls the shots – the diplomatic corps or the trade commissioners? The latter it seems. It will be interesting to see how the courts rule in Imai’s case.

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