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Genocide charges against mining giant

A US federal court has revived a lawsuit against London-based mining giant Rio Tinto Plc.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of around 10,000 residents of Bougainville, a mining town in Papua New-Guinea.

Rio Tinto is accused of encouraging the government of Papua New-Guinea to crush an uprising beginning in 1988 by residents against the pollution and ‘slave-like conditions’ the residents were forced to work under.

Judge Mary Schroeder wrote in a report for the appeals court that the complaint's allegation that Rio Tinto's "worldwide modus operandi" was to treat indigenous non-Caucasians as "expendable" justified restoring the genocide claim to the case.

She also said the allegation that Rio Tinto acted for its own private ends in inducing Papua New Guinea's military to murder civilians justified restoring the war crimes claim.

The case was brought under a 1789 US law, known as the Alien Tort Statute. This law allows non-US citizens to bring cases against non-US companies for crimes committed on foreign soil.

See Reuters report here.

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