OTTAWA -- A highly critical human rights report scheduled for release Tuesday is expected to shed new light on the darker implications of the Conservative government's ambitions for Canadian mining companies in Africa.
The report by Human Rights Watch says Vancouver-based Nevsun Resources Ltd. (TSX: NSU) failed to ensure that forced labour was not used in the construction of its mine in Eritrea, the hermit-like pariah state on the Horn of Africa.
Though the company was concerned when the problems first came to light and tried to investigate, it was blocked by its state-owned partner, says the report by the New York-based agency.
"When Nevsun began building its Bisha mine in Eritrea in 2008, it failed to conduct human rights due diligence activity and had only limited human rights safeguards in place," Human Rights Watch said.
The Eritrean government insisted that Segen Construction Company, a local Eritrean contractor, carry out construction of the mine in 2008. Segen -- owned by the ruling People's Front for Democracy and Justice -- routinely exploits conscript workers that the government assigns to it, the report alleges.
The agency said Eritrea's conscripted workers, some of whom are forced to labour for over a decade, face torture and other serious abuse, and revenge is extracted on their families if they desert their posts.