Hearings / The Bisie Case

The responsibility of the EU and its member states.

Are multinational corporations not being held legally accountable for human rights violations because their commitment in Africa is essential for Europe's raw material and energy policy?

In 2002, miners discovered a high occurrence of cassiterite on a hill close to the city of Walikale in the province of North Kivu. Since the city is occupied by armed groups, the congolese army secures the city and deducts most profits.

4 years later, the company MPC buys an exploration-license for the mine from the government. A conflict with the miners erupted. Are multinational corporations not being held legally accountable for human rights violations because their commitment in Africa is essential for Europe's raw material and energy policy?

While the sanctions against "conflict minerals" mainly affect Congolese miners, multinational corporations are hardly held responsible for human rights violations. In light of the continuing and increasing needs for natural resources in the western industrial countries, corrective measures of the EU appear to be just an act of securing further consumption. Massive resettlements accompany the “clean” energy policy of the industrial nations, which relies on a neocolonial outsourcing of all “dirty” primary industries. Does industrial mining in Bisie contribute to economical development in the region or are international mining companies the only ones to profit?


"When the government stopped mining to fight the armed groups, we became unemployed."

Stéphane Ikandi (witness, Bukavu) represents artisanal miners from Bisie and fights for the rights for artisanal miners. He discovered the mine and is the co-founder of the cooperative COMIMPA. In 2011, he had to give up his pit.


"People from Walikale do not profit from the wealth of raw materials."

Witness B (witness, Bukavu) is a former rebel soldier from the Sheka group that controlled the mine of Bisie.


"According to Congolese law, artisanal and industrial mining may not be under the same concession."

Nadine Lusi (witness, Bukavu) is the development and PR commissioner of the Canadian Alphamin Ressource Corporation. The corporation operates in the mine of Bisie.


"I agree that the population rebels against the law."

Fidel Bafilemba (witness and expert, Bukavu) is the regional manager of the „Enough Project“ which controls the application of the „Dodd-Frank Act“ in Eastern Congo. He is a driving force in the banishment of the militias from the mineral trade in this region. Critical voices consider him and his organization as a lobby of the US economic leaders.


"From which right does the majority benefit and not just national or international elites?"

Wolfgang Kaleck (member of the jury, Berlin) is the General Secretary of the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) in Berlin. The ECCHR is specialized in cases of human rights violation by multinational companies on foreign territories.


"Eastern Congo was an Eldorado for national and international actors during the war."

Christoph Vogel (witness and expert, Berlin) researches the cooperation between transnational regulation and the local mining sector in Eastern Congo as a part of his PhD in political Geograph at the University of Zürich and at the Congo Research Group at the New York University.


"My mobile phone is produced in China, and because of the lack of transparency, you will never know if it is made from conflict minerals."

Judith Sargentini (expert, Berlin) is a Dutch politician of the GroenLinks party and a member of the European Parliament. She advocates a stricter European legislation against the commerce of “conflict resources” that is not based on voluntariness and self-certification.


"A mobile phone would cost 2000 euros if we would make the value chain transparent."

Harald Welzer (member of the jury, Berlin) is a social psychologist, founder and director of the non-profit organization “Futurzwei”. He is an honorary professor at the University of Flensburg and an author (“Climate Wars").