What does the murder of activist Mariano Abarca in Chiapas, México say about Canadian government accountability?
One might think that public servants are obliged to follow policies and procedures that Canadian government officials testify to in Parliament or publish on the government’s website. But a recent Federal Court ruling says this is not necessarily so. That case is currently before the Federal Court of Appeal.
With support from Mexican and Canadian organizations, the family of environmental defender Mariano Abarca, who was murdered in 2009, is seeking an investigation into the Canadian Embassy in Mexico. They believe that the Embassy’s unconditional lobbying in support of a Canadian mining company put Mariano’s life in greater danger in the lead up to his murder.
This roundtable will discuss Canadian practice when it comes to embassies abroad and conflicts over Canadian mining operations, asking whether Mariano’s case is the pattern or an exception. We will also explore what policy Canadian officials should be expected to follow in such cases, and how Canada’s human rights obligations are fulfilled. Finally, do we have any way to hold public officials to account when things go wrong?
Moderator: Bianca Mugyenyi, Director, Canadian Foreign Policy Institute
1st hour: Economic Diplomacy
• José Luis Abarca, son of Mariano, Chicomuselo, Chiapas, Mexico
• Miguel Mijangos, Mexican Network of Mining Affected People (REMA)
• Charis Kamphuis, Justice and Corporate Accountability Project
• Jen Moore, Global Economy Program, Institute for Policy Studies
2nd hour: Approaches to Enforcement
• Nicholas Pope, lawyer on the case, Hameed Law, Ottawa
• Ketty Nivyabandi, Secretary-General, Amnesty International Canada
• Penelope Simons, Canadian Lawyers for International Human Rights
• David Yazbek, Lawyer, Centre for Freedom of Expression