Freeport-McMoRan lawsuits (re West Papua)

Grasberg_mine_by_Alfindra_Primaldhi_via_Wikimedia_CommonsIn 1996 Tom Beanal, a leader of the Amungme people of West Papua, filed suit against Freeport-McMoRan in US federal court.  The same year, Yosefa Alomang also filed suit against Freeport-McMoRan in Louisiana state court.  Beanal alleged that Freeport was complicit in human rights abuses committed against him and the Amungme people by security forces employed by Freeport; the human rights violations alleged were surveillance, mental torture, death threats and house arrest.  Beanal also alleged that Freeport’s operations in West Papua caused severe degradation to the Amungme’s environment and habitat.  Finally, Beanal alleged that Freeport’s mining operations resulted in “cultural genocide” by destroying the Amungme's habitat and religious symbols. 

The district court dismissed the case in 1998 on the basis that the environmental and human rights abuses alleged by Beanal were not violations of the “law of nations”.  Beanal appealed this ruling, but the court of appeals affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of the case in 1999.  In the Louisiana state court case, Alomang alleged that Freeport had engaged in human rights and environmental violations through its corporate policies and conduct at its Grasberg mine in West Papua.  She claimed relief under Louisiana state tort law.  Alomang’s case was dismissed by the state court in 2000 for failure to state an actionable claim against Freeport.

 

- “Below a Mountain of Wealth, a River of Waste”, Jane Perlez & Raymond Bonner, New York Times, 27 Dec 2005
- “What’s Yours is Mine”, Robert Bryce, Austin Chronicle, 1 Sep 2000
- [PDF] “International Environmental Claims Against Mining Company Operating in Indonesia Rejected by Fifth Circuit”, Stuart R. Butzier, Modrall, Sperling, Roehl, Harris & Sisk, 03 Apr 2000
- “Current Developments - Beanal v. Freeport-McMoran, Inc.: Anatomy of an International Environmental Tort Case”, Ethan Jessup, New England International and Comparative Law Annual, Vol. 5, 1999

Freeport-McMoRan:
- “Freeport-McMoRan Response to New York Times Article and Editorial Re Papuan Operations”, 11 Jan 2006
- “Landmark Court Rulings - Issues & Answers”, June 2004
- “US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms Dismissal of Beanal Lawsuit”, 01 Dec 1999

Earthrights International: 
Amicus Brief for Beanal v. Freeport McMoRan

- US Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit: Beanal v. Freeport-McMoRan, 29 Nov 1999

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Lawsuit
18 February 2014

Freeport-McMoRan lawsuits (re West Papua)

Author: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

In 1996 Tom Beanal, a leader of the Amungme people of West Papua, filed suit against Freeport-McMoRan in US federal court.  The same year, Yosefa Alomang also filed suit against Freeport-McMoRan in Louisiana state court.  Beanal alleged that Freeport was complicit in human rights abuses committed against him and the Amungme people by security forces employed by Freeport; the human rights violations alleged were surveillance, mental torture, death threats and house arrest.  Beanal also alleged that Freeport’s operations in West Papua caused severe degradation to the Amungme’s environment and habitat.  Finally, Beanal alleged that Freeport’s mining operations resulted in “cultural genocide” by destroying the Amungme's habitat and religious symbols. 

The district court dismissed the case in 1998 on the basis that the environmental and human rights abuses alleged by Beanal were not violations of the “law of nations”.  Beanal appealed this ruling, but the court of appeals affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of the case in 1999.  In the Louisiana state court case, Alomang alleged that Freeport had engaged in human rights and environmental violations through its corporate policies and conduct at its Grasberg mine in West Papua.  She claimed relief under Louisiana state tort law.  Alomang’s case was dismissed by the state court in 2000 for failure to state an actionable claim against Freeport.

 

 

- “Below a Mountain of Wealth, a River of Waste”, Jane Perlez & Raymond Bonner, New York Times, 27 Dec 2005

- “What’s Yours is Mine”, Robert Bryce, Austin Chronicle, 1 Sep 2000

- [PDF] “International Environmental Claims Against Mining Company Operating in Indonesia Rejected by Fifth Circuit”, Stuart R. Butzier, Modrall, Sperling, Roehl, Harris & Sisk, 03 Apr 2000

- “Current Developments - Beanal v. Freeport-McMoran, Inc.: Anatomy of an International Environmental Tort Case”, Ethan Jessup, New England International and Comparative Law Annual, Vol. 5, 1999

 

Freeport-McMoRan:

-“Freeport-McMoRan Response to New York Times Article and Editorial Re Papuan Operations”, 11 Jan 2006

- Landmark Court Rulings - Issues & Answers”, June 2004

- “US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms Dismissal of Beanal Lawsuit”, 01 Dec 1999

 

Earthrights International: 

- Amicus Brief for Beanal v. Freeport McMoRan

 

- US Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit: Beanal v. Freeport-McMoRan, 29 Nov 1999

Article
1 September 2011

[PDF] The Alien Tort Claims Act and Trans-Boundary Corporate Environmental Abuse: A Case Study of the Gulf Oil Spill

Author: Haley St. Denis, Yale Journal of International Affairs

The Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) is a U.S. statute enabling aliens to sue in American civil courts for certain egregious human rights violations. It has come to be the tool wielded for most international human rights litigation against corporations. This article explores the potential ATCA liability resulting from corporate trans-boundary environmental abuse through consideration of BP and the 2010 Gulf oil spill. This hypothetical “case” demonstrates that though an ATCA claim against BP would likely fail based on the ultimate concentration of damage to U.S. territory, had the damage primarily hit foreign waters, shores and communities, the prospects of bringing an ATCA claim are real and present. Further, the symbolic repercussions of such a claim could develop both international law and industrial standards.

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Article
5 December 2008

[PDF] Human Rights Translated: A Business Reference Guide

Author: OHCHR, IBLF, UN Global Compact & Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Faculty of Law, Monash University [Australia]

Readers are guided through each of the rights contained in the UN treaties...and given a description of what each right means in general terms and how it may be relevant to a company’s activities...To bring reality to the report, each description of a right is illustrated by one or more short case studies demonstrating how the right can be relevant to business. The companies profiled have been given a chance to comment...For each right in the report the authors offer suggested practical actions for company managers’ consideration...[refers to Freeport McMoRan, Freeport Indonesia (part of Freeport-McMoRan), Hamersley Iron (part of Rio Tinto), Coca-Cola, Bebidas y Alimentos, Panamerican Beverages, James Hardie, BP, TeGenero, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Titan (now L-3 Titan), CACI, Unocal (part of Chevron), GSL Australia (part of Group 4 Securicor), Aker Kværner, Bosasa, Newmont, British American Tobacco, UBS, Credit Suisse, AOL (part of Time Warner), Victorian Clinical Genetics Service, Yahoo! Hong Kong, Alibaba.com, HP (Hewlett-Packard), TPG, British Airways, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Cisco Systems, Wal-Mart, Shell, Bayer CropScience, Emergent Genetics (part of Monsanto), Monsanto, Bayer, Singer, Ben & Jerry’s (part of Unilever), Unilever Bestfoods, Starbucks, Elf Aquitaine (now part of Total), Cracker Barrel (part of CBRL Group), Calvert Group, Alcoa, Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation (part of Toyota), Tae Kwang Vina, Nike, Pentland Group, Barclays, Novartis, BHP Billiton, Mod-Style, Panarub, Adidas, Enron, Levi Strauss, Walt Disney, Marriott, Malaysia Airlines, IBM, Ernst & Young, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Johnson & Johnson, Mattel, Guatemala Nickel Company, PT Lapindo Brantas, Lafayette Philippines (part of Lafayette Mining), Aguas del Tunari, Abengoa, Union Carbide (part of Dow Chemical), McDonald's, IKEA, RiceTec]

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Article
29 October 2008

[PDF] Business & Human Rights Resource Centre launches world’s first online portal profiling human rights lawsuits against companies

Author: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Today the non-profit Business & Human Rights Resource Centre launches a free online portal – the first to bring together and demystify lawsuits from across the world alleging human rights abuses by companies. The portal summarises in non-legal language over 35 cases and the positions of each side, with more cases to be added soon. It also presents special commentaries by experts...Companies in profiled lawsuits include: AngloGold Ashanti, Barclays, BHP Billiton, Biwater, Blackwater, BP, Cambior, Cape PLC, Chevron/Texaco, Chiquita, Coca-Cola, Daimler, Deutsche Bank, Dow/Union Carbide, Drummond, DynCorp, ExxonMobil, Firestone, Ford, Freeport-McMoRan, IBM, Mitsubishi, Nike, Occidental, Rio Tinto, Severstal, Shell, Standard Chartered, Talisman, Trafigura, Total, UBS, Wal-Mart, Yahoo!

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Article
1 August 2006

[PDF] Brief on Corporations and Human Rights in the Asia-Pacific Region - Prepared for Professor John Ruggie, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary General for Business and Human Rights

Author: Allens Arthur Robinson law firm

[159-page reference paper covering legal framework & cases in the following countries: Australia, India, Indonesia, Myanmar (Burma), New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, People's Republic of China]
The main findings of this brief are broadly structured in accordance with the first three components of the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary General on Business and Human Rights' (UNSRSG) mandate as they pertain to the Asia Pacific region, namely:
• identifying and clarifying standards of corporate responsibility and accountability for transnational corporations (TNCs) and other business enterprises with regard to human rights across the Asia Pacific region;
• the role of the State in various Asia Pacific countries in effectively regulating and adjudicating the role of TNCs and other business enterprises with regard to human rights; and
• the implications for TNCs and other business enterprises of the concepts of 'complicity' and 'sphere of influence'.
[Conclusion on page 159 begins:] The UNSRSG stated in his Preliminary Remarks at the World Mines Ministries Forum in March 2006 that: "human rights impact assessment today is as underdeveloped as environmental impact assessment was a generation or so ago..." The same can be said for the legal regimes that exist to hold corporations to account for their direct and indirect human rights impacts...

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Article
1 October 2005

[DOC] Regulations for Corporations: A historical account of TNC regulation

Author: Désirée Abrahams

This paper has aimed to give a contemporary history of the regulation of transnational corporations...[refers to Ford, General Motors, IBM, Pepsi Cola (now PepsiCo), United Fruit Company (now Chiquita), International Telephone and Telegraph Company (ITT) (present-day ITT Industries was one of the companies that emerged when ITT split up), Shell, Unilever, Danone, Altria, Thor, Rio Tinto, Cape Plc, Cambior, BHP Billiton, Freeport-McMoran, Chevron, Unocal, Body Shop, Ben & Jerry's (part of Unilever), Novartis]

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Article
4 August 2005

NYC [New York City] pension funds concerned about Freeport McMoRan's activities in Indonesia

Author: Press Office, New York City Comptroller

New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr., on behalf of the New York City Pension Funds, today expressed concern regarding the relationship between Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold, Inc. and the Indonesian military, as outlined in a new report released by Global Witness. “We are concerned about the details of Freeport McMoran’s payments to the Indonesian military, which seem to be more extensive and more questionable than previously known,” Thompson said. “We are particularly troubled by Freeport’s continued elusive responses to inquiries into its relationship with the Indonesian military. The trustees are committed to pursue this issue further.”

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Article
1 December 2004

[PDF] executive summary: "Business and International Crimes: Assessing the Liability of Business Entities for Grave Violations of International Law"

Author: Fafo Institute for Applied Social Science & Intl. Peace Academy

It is possible to hold business entities accountable for international crimes...but the problem of jurisdiction remains a barrier to international prosecution...Domestic courts are possible venues for assessing liability of companies operating
abroad...especially through the doctrine of complicity. [refers to Talisman, Rio Tinto, Unocal, Shell, Chevron (part of ChevronTexaco), ExxonMobil, Freeport-McMoRan, Cape plc]

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Article
1 December 2004

[PDF] The Changing Landscape of Liability - A Director’s Guide to Trends in Corporate Environmental, Social and Economic Liability

Author: SustainAbility

[refers to Phillip Morris (part of Altria), McDonald's, Nestlé, Nike, Unocal, Ford, Shell, Monsanto, ExxonMobil, Dow Chemical, Union Carbide (part of Dow Chemical), Talisman, Walt Disney, Swiss Re, General Motors, General Electric, Texaco (part of ChevronTexaco), Chevron (part of ChevronTexaco), Gap, Southern Peru Copper (joint venture Grupo México, Cerro Trading, Phelps Dodge), Coca-Cola, Rio Tinto, Freeport McMoRan, Del Monte (Fresh Del Monte Produce), Dyncorp (part of Computer Sciences), Barclays, Cape plc, Mitsubishi, Total, Burger King, KFC (part of YUM!), Kraft Foods (part of Altria), PepsiCo]

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Article
16 July 2004

Summary of ATCA Cases Involving Multinational Corporations

Author: International Labor Rights Fund

[scroll down to item 3, "Beanal, et. al. v. Freeport-McMoran, Inc., et. al." under the heading "DISMISSED CASES -APPEAL DENIED"]

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