February 14, 2018
Inhabitants of nine villages in Dansogoia (formerly Kalasongoia) Chiefdom, in the Tonkolili District, Northern Sierra Leone have commenced three class action suits in the country’s High Court against African Minerals group, says a release from right group Namati.
The court actions allege various infringements of Sierra Leone’s environmental and mining laws which have caused severe hardship for the plaintiff communities, including flooding, pollution of swamplands and streams and insufficient land for farming, the release adds.
It also notes that in 2010, the African Minerals group obtained a licence from the government to mine the biggest iron ore deposit in the country, located in the Sula Mountain range and covering an area of approximately 227 square kilometres. However, as a result of financial difficulties, the Chinese mining giant Shandong Iron and Steel Group (SISG) acquired controlling interest of AML in 2015.
Sulaiman Kamara, one of the plaintiffs, said: “Neither AML nor the new owners [SISG] treated us fairly. We now look to the courts for justice and relief.”
The court papers were reportedly filed by Namati’s Director Sonkita Conteh Esq on 8th and 13th February 2018, seeking a range of remedies, including clean up and restoration, compensation, provision of alternative livelihood and prevention of further pollution, the release discloses.
Namati is a legal empowerment organisation dedicated to putting the law into people’s hands. It partners with civil society organisations and governments to develop, implement, and evaluate legal empowerment strategies that address four urgent challenges: delivering quality legal aid at scale; protecting community land rights; closing the enforcement gap in environmental law; and ensuring that essential services like healthcare and education are accountable to local communities.