19th February 2018
British High Court Judge Adjudicates the African Minerals Case in a Freetown Court!
By a press release (03/02/18)
British High Court Judge has made legal history as he travelled to Sierra Leone as part of a lawsuit against mining giant African Minerals.
This is the first time a British judge has sat in a Sierra Leone court to try a lawsuit against the African Minerals Limited subsidiary company called Tonkolili Iron Ore in northern Sierra Leone. (Photo: British Judge Turner in Freetown).
The six-week hearing has already began and it involves African Minerals subsidiary, Tonkolili Iron Ore, which faces allegations of human rights abuses against workers and villagers living near one of its mines in Salone.
Mr Justice Turner and the legal teams for both claimants and defendants are already in Sierra Leone and for a fortnight in a makeshift courtroom which has been created in a hotel room in the capital Freetown.
More than 140 claimants from Sierra Leone are suing Tonkolili Iron Ore, a former subsidiary of African Minerals, which had its headquarters in Britain over allegations that the company was complicit with the local police, whose officers are alleged to have falsely imprisoned, assaulted and raped local residents during two incidents in 2010 and 2012. Tonkolili Iron Ore has however denies these accusations.
Lawyers for the claimants told the court that if proceedings did not relocate to Sierra Leone, it would be impossible for the villagers to put their case directly as travelling to London would be prohibitively expensive and it would also be difficult to obtain visas.
As a result, the British Judge Mr Justice Turner decided to also rule out a video link proceedings and instead decided to hear the evidence in person. So he jetted in Freetown to adjudicate justice.
Observers in Sierra Leone say this is what happens when a government is unable to protect her citizenry thanks to a discredited judiciary.