Banro Corporation SLAPP Suit for $5 Million

Publisher Écosociété and the authors of Noir Canada take the case to Supreme Court

Montreal, January 21, 2011 – The Supreme Court of Canada has accepted to hear the motion of Éditions Ecosociété and the authors of the book Noir Canada (Alain Deneault, Delphine Abadie, and William Sacher) to repatriate to Quebec the proceedings instituted against them by Banro Corporation in the Superior Court of Ontario (http://csc.lexum.umontreal.ca/fr/news_release/2011/11-01-13.3a/11-01-13….).

Éditions Ecosociété and the authors of Noir Canada argue that Ontario is not the appropriate jurisdiction to prosecute the architects of the book who work in Quebec and who do their work in French. A few dozen copies of Noir Canada only were distributed in Ontario. Banro Corporation for its part is registered in Toronto but exploits no mine in the province and has several foreign administrators.

The book Noir Canada gives an account of the controversial role of Canadian corporations in Africa, based exclusively on previously-known international documentation, such as United Nations reports or the research of public organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Pole Institut (http://www.freespeechatrisk.ca/resources/).

Éditions Ecosociété and the authors of Noir Canada were first sued in Quebec for libel by Barrick Gold, on April 29, 2008 for $6 million. Banro entered the fray on June 11, 2008 by reproducing essentially the same allegations as Barrick, in a suit for $5 million, this time in Ontario, under another code of law. Éditions Ecosociété and the authors of Noir Canada see in the Banro suit a strategy to exhaust them since this presents for them a doubling of judicial procedures and costs, as well as numerous trips to Toronto, whether it be for attending hearings or for participating in questioning before the process.

This corresponds to that which is called “Strategic lawsuits against public participation” (SLAPP). This instrumentalization of law puts in peril liberty of expression and the right of the public to information. The province of Ontario, contrary to Quebec, has no anti-SLAPP legislation currently in force. To date, 272 Canadian university professors have signed a petition in support of Éditions Écosociété and the authors of Noir Canada, appealing to the Ontario government that it adopts in its turn an anti-SLAPP law. They put forward that “SLAPPs impose unacceptable limitations on freedom of expression, academic freedom and deliberative democracy. These lawsuits are brought in the absence of any meaningful public debate. They are filed by companies or institutions against individuals or activist groups, aimed at neutralizing or censuring public criticism of their activities” (http://www.freespeechatrisk.ca/academic-petition/).

The Supreme Court hearing will take place on March 25, 2011.

We need you! You can now proudly display your support of Éditions Écosociété and the authors of Noir Canada by wearing a superb tee-shirt Libre d’être Écosociété that celebrates freedom of expression in all its forms. Proceeds from the sale of these tee-shirts will go to the fund for the legal defense, notably to the aid of the authors, who do not benefit from the support of an insurer. To buy a tee-shirt, click here.

You can also donate to the Éditions Écosociété defense fund via their Internet site or by sending a cheque to this address:

Les Éditions Écosociété
C.P. 32052, Comptoir Saint-André
Montréal (Québec) H2L 4Y5
Téléphone: (514) 521-0913
Fax: (514) 521-1283
E-mail: amvoisard@ecosociete.org

Il you would like to support us in some other way, by volunteering your time, you can contact us via e-mail: amvoisard@ecosociete.org.

SLAPP.ECOSOCIETE.ORG

Thank-you!

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