By SONJA DECHIAN | Published: OCTOBER 27, 2011
A federal appeals court in the United States has ruled that mining company Rio Tinto can now be sued over accusations of genocide and war crimes in Papua New Guinea.
Associated Press reports the lawsuit was filed 11 years ago by about 10,000 residents of Bougainville Island. They claim Rio Tinto is implicated in the civil war triggered when islanders sabotaged the Panguna copper mine in response to ongoing environmental damage in the late 1980s.
Although a lower court dismissed the original decision, the Court of Appeals has now reversed this decision.
Judge Mary Schroder said the “allegation that Rio Tinto’s ‘worldwide modus operandi’ was to treat indigenous non-Caucasians as ‘expendable’ justified restoring the genocide claim to the case.”