National Times – The UK Supreme Court has ruled that over 2,000 Zambian villagers have the right to sue Vedanta Resources in the English courts in a ruling that paves way for local Zambians to seek justice against multinational companies.
The Zambian villagers allege that their land and livelihood has been destroyed by the pollution from the Nchanga Copper Mine owned by Vedanta Resources PLC through their subsidiary KCM, going into the Mushishima river.
The Court over ruled Vedanta’s request that the case should be heard in Zambia. According to the Court, the claimants are unlikely to get fair hearing in Zambia where political interventions are high, with often weak regulations.
Vedanta said: “The judgment of the UK Supreme Court is a procedural one and relates only to the jurisdiction of the English court to hear these claims. It is not a judgment on the merits of the claims.
“Vedanta and KCM will defend themselves against any such claims at the appropriate time.”
The case will pave way for other African communities to seek justice against multinational companies that often collude with African leaders to destroy local communities.
While the international media has described the case as evidence that Africans are having justice beyond the borders rather than within, there are several cases in Zambia where local courts have asked mining companies to compensate locals for damages resulting from mining related pollution.
For example, in 2013, a Zambian High Court in Kitwe asked Chinese Mining company, Chambishi Copper Smelter Company (CCS) to compensate residents in Chambishi for damages caused by Sulphur Dioxide from the Copper Smelter.
In essence, this will pave way for Africans to seek justice within Africa, and beyond, even though powerful countries like the US are still barring victims for seeking justice in US courts.
Written by Denise Yendjock, Edited by Mukete Beyongo