Slain Mexican activist's supporters contest federal watchdog's refusal to probe case

·1 min read

OTTAWA — Family and supporters of a Mexican activist who was killed after opposing a Canadian company's mining project are challenging a federal ombudsman's decision not to investigate the matter.

They are telling a Federal Court of Appeal hearing today the public sector integrity commissioner had grounds to look into allegations that Canadian officials in Mexico City failed to follow federal policies concerning protection of human rights advocates.

In 2007, Calgary-based Blackfire Exploration Ltd. opened a barite mine in Chiapas, Mexico, prompting local opposition, demonstrations and a blockade of a route to the project.

After being beaten and threatened with death for leading protests over the mine's environmental and social effects, activist Mariano Abarca was fatally shot outside his home in November 2009.

Members of Abarca's family and organizations concerned with mining abuses presented information to the integrity commissioner in 2018, asking him to probe whether there was wrongdoing by members of the Canadian Embassy in Mexico.

Federal Court Justice Keith Boswell ruled two years ago that it was reasonable for the commissioner to decide not to investigate on the basis the embassy had broken no code of conduct.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 8, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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