International People’ s Court/Colombia Chapter/ Section on Mining

( Translated by Elena Meyer, a CSN Translator)

Colombia Chapter
Multinationa Corporations, Natural Resources and the Dirty War
Section on Mining

What is the International Peoples¹ Court?

In 1966, a series of agreements were institutionalized to create an international peoples¹ tribunal.  The following year, a group of international organizations organized the first hearings of what was then called the ŒRussel Court,¹  This Court was created to judge the United States and other countries implicated in crimes in Vietnam.  It also held many hearings between 1974 and 1976 to judge several Latin American military dictatorships.

An international symposium was convened in Argel to ratify a Universal Declaration of Peoples¹ Rights on July 4, 1976.  However, the International Peoples¹ Court of today was not officially established until 1979. The Lelio Basso International Foundation established a council which appointed over sixty scientists, artists, religious leaders, politicians, writers, and human rights experts from various countries who are renowned for their integrity. These members make their judgments on the basis of international treaties instead of relying on national laws. They are meant to represent the moral conscience of civil society.

Why this court was needed

It has become more challenging to uphold human rights given the pervasive changes in global production systems in how profits are accumulated and distributed. Unfortunately, these systemic changes do not include a multilateral institution with a holistic approach to advocating for human rights.

Although the media often may report otherwise, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Colombia are concerned about the active role of multinational corporations in today¹s socio-political and military conflicts. These corporations have promoted economic models which have seriously eroded the Colombian peoples¹ economic, social, cultural and environmental rights. It has become increasingly apparent that these corporations have close ties to the paramilitary forces which help these corporations achieve their economic goals.

Some examples of the collusion between multinational corporations and paramilitary forces include the Drummond Company case, the lawsuit against the Coca Cola Company, and the assassination of nine union members in Antioquia. Other examples include Oxy¹s role in the Santo Domingo bombings in which an Oxy subsidiary designated bombing targets for the Colombian Air Force as well as the admissions made by Chiquita Brands executives (of the formerly notorious United Fruit Company) regarding their ties to Colombian paramilitary groups.

These cases have been heard outside of Colombia because of the national courts¹ regrettable lack of fairness. Among many examples of this lack of fairness is that of the Santo Domingo case, one in which nearly all of the witnesses were threatened, Œdisappeared,¹ or assassinated.

The Colombian Hearings of the International Peoples¹ Court

This court seeks truth, justice and reparations for victims. It has met thirty-one times in various countries and cities where genocide has occurred. Because of its jurisdiction, several NGOs and rights groups brought charges of Crimes against Humanity to this court for damages inflicted upon Colombian people by certain Colombian economic entities, as well as by various multinational corporations doing business in Colombia. These charges were scheduled to be heard between October 2005 and July 2008.

The Colombian Hearings of the International Peoples¹ Court will address concerns related to the unconscionable extraction of natural resources, the exploitation of workers, the Œmarket management¹ strategies in which paramilitary groups protect and/or promote the economic interests of multinational corporations in addition to addressing concerns related to state terrorism in general.

During its first sessions, the Court failed to adequately resolve claims against the Nestle and Coca Cola corporations. Its next session will deal with mining issues. Beginning next year, the Court will judge claims involving environmental, oil and public sector issues. The Court will hold its first deliberations in 2008 to address the nefarious consequences of Colombia¹s current economic models and military strategies. The Court will consider the government¹s involvement in civil and human rights violations.

This Court will provide an international forum to expose the dysfunctions of Colombia¹s current court system which includes allegations of impunity at the highest levels. It will provide a forum to expose those entities which currently seek legitimacy and find impunity through the corrupt national courts. Instead of serving to promote justice, today¹s Colombian courts persecute, repress and silence those who challenge the government¹s interests.

The Hearings on Mining

During these hearings, the International Peoples¹ Court will consider the liabilities of several multinational corporations involved in coal and gold mining. Allegations have been brought regarding rights violations in several parts of Colombia. The following concerns or cases will be heard:
1. Human rights concerns on an international level as they relate to multinational mining corporations
2. Concerns related to these mining corporations in Colombia, using a typical case example: that of the Frontino Gold Mines in northeastern Antioquia
3. Paramilitary forces in Colombia and the support provided by Colombia¹s economic, military and legal institutions
4. Control and unlawful interference exerted over mining legislation in Colombia by multinational mining corporations
5. The Drummond case in the Cesar Department
6. The Muriel Mining Corporation in Antioquia and in the Chocó
7. A case involving the persecution and repression of a union at Sintraminercol
8. The Kedaha Company case in Sur de Bolivar
9. The Cerrajón case involving Glencore, Angloamerican and BHP Billiton

The hearings on mining will begin on November 10-12, 2006 in Medellin, Antioquia


Alebrije. Asociación Campesina de Antioquia ACA. Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo, Colectivo de Derechos Humanos Semillas de Libertad CODEHSEL. Colectivo Ambiental ³Mario Calderón².Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz. Corporación Sembrar. Comité de Solidaridad Con los presos políticos. Coordinador Nacional Agrario. Corporación Jurídica Libertad. Cospacc. Colectivo Vasija de Barro. Ecate. Fedeagromisbol. Instituto Nacional Sindical CED-INS. Justicia y Vida. Nomadesc. Observatorio Social de Empresas Transnacionales, Megaproyectos y Derechos Humanos de Colombia. Organizaciones Sociales de Arauca. Proyecto Aurora. Red de Hermandad y Solidaridad con Colombia. Sinaltrainal. Sintraminercol. Sintraemsdes. Unión Sindical Obrera USO.

Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI  53701-1505
phone:  (608) 257-8753
fax:  (608) 255-6621

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