Rio Tinto: Trialed for its complicity in war crimes

Human Rights Violations in Papua New Guinea

In 2000 the British corporation Rio Tinto has been brought to court by inhabitants of the island of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea. Under the US Alien Tort Claims Act, environmental allegations have already been dismissed, while claims on genocide and war crimes have been revived by a US court in 2011.

Rio Tinto is accused of complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the PNG army during a secessionist conflict on Bougainville. After workers began to sabotage a mine owned by the British multinational in 1988, Rio Tinto goaded the government into imposing a blockade that resulted in the deaths of some 10,000 civilians by 1997.

The Bougainville secessionist conflict was a civil war between 1988 and 1998 that claimed an estimated 15.000 to 20.000 lives. The Bougainville Copper Ltd. mine in which the British mining corporation Rio Tinto held the majority of shares is alleged to play a crucial role in the escalation of the conflict.

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