Canadian academics and free speech advocates are up in arms over two mining multinationals' use of libel law to bury their critics in lawsuits. Alain Deneault, Delphine Abadie, and William Sacher published a book called Noir Canada. Pillage, corruption et criminalité en Afrique that detailed well-sourced human rights abuses by the multinational resource companies Barrick Gold and Banro Corporation. The companies have responded with $11 million in lawsuits, aimed at bankrupting their critics with court fees. Barrick Gold has threatened other publishers on the basis of brief summaries of yet-to-be-published critical books.
These clear threats against academic freedom of expression and freedom of speech are cause for serious concern and the Free Speech at Risk site aims to bring attention to these cases and open up the public debate over the issue. Authors and academics should not have to fear legal action for simply asking questions based on material and reports that are already in the public domain.
This site was started by Professor Michel Seymour from the Université de Montréal, along with author Alain Deneault, and Anne-Marie Voisard of Écosociété. Several organizations have also pledged their support. If you are an academic professor, please consider signing our Academic Petition and concerned Canadians can also consider signing our Citizen Petition.
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