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«Human Rights Watch Brussels London New York Washington, D.C. Copyright © 2003 by Human Rights Watch. All rights reserved. Printed in the United ...»

-- [ Page 63 ] --

Foreign Affairs Press Release No. 143, “Axworthy And Marchi Welcome Canadian Business Focus On International Practices,” September 5, 1997, http://www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/english/news/press_releases/97_press/97_143e.htm (accessed June 24, 2001).

1202 In 1994 the parties to the IGAD negotiations, the SPLM/A and the government of Sudan, agreed to a Declaration of Principles (DOP). “IGAD Peace Initiative: Declaration of Principles,” Nairobi, July 20, 1994, http://www.freedomhouse.org/religion/sudan/publications/igad_dop.htm (accessed September 25, 2003).

1203 Backgrounder, “Canada’s Sudan Policy,” p. 6.

1204 Ibid. The Export and Import Controls Act provides that, as designated by the minister of foreign affairs, certain imports from and exports to a particular country may be subjected to scrutiny by the foreign ministry, which could refuse to permit the transaction. The Special Economic Measures Act authorizes imposition of sanctions on Canadian corporations as part of a multilateral action, such as Security Council mandated sanctions.

–  –  –

Talisman’s shares lost 11 percent on the Toronto stock exchange in the two days after Minister Axworthy mentioned the possibility of sanctions, to Canadian $ 38.60.1205 The company’s share price continued to drop.1206 Analysts said that Talisman shares lost more than 20 percent of their value after the rebel attack on the pipeline in mid-September 1999, although not all of the slump could be attributed to concern over Sudan, or the “Sudan overhang,” as the stock analysts termed it. Some emphasized that the Sudanese operations comprised only about 10 percent of Talisman’s asset base, by production and investment.1207

One financial commentator observed:

Whatever the ethics of the situation, Talisman has clearly misjudged the potential impact of activist power and the perception of political risks. These have knocked perhaps as much as a billion dollars off Talisman’s market capitalization, possibly far more than the Sudanese investment is worth.1208 Canadian Foreign Minister Axworthy met with CEO Buckee on November 3, 1999, regarding Sudan. He again asked Talisman to sign the International Code of Ethics for Canadian Business. After months of urging by the Canadian government, Talisman finally signed the Code in December 1999, after the government human rights investigatory team led by John Harker had arrived in Sudan. The Code The Area Control List, mentioned in the Harker report as an alternative consideration, provides that Canada is able to apply selective trade restrictions with regard to a country placed on the ACL list, in support of specific foreign policy and security objectives. Thus machine tools for weapons production would not be permitted to be sent to Sudan under the ACL. Harker report, pp. 68-69.

1205 “Shares in Canada’s Talisman fall on sanctions talk,” Reuters, Calgary, October 27, 1999; “Talisman Share Price Drop a ShortTerm Situation, Analysts Say,” Bloomberg, Calgary, October 29, 1999; Jeffrey Jones, “Sudan fears overshadow Talisman’s rich results,” Reuters, Calgary, November 5, 1999.

1206 Ibid.

1207 Ibid.

1208 Peter Foster, “Sudan: Talisman in ethical no man’s land,” Financial Post (Toronto), November 12, 1999.

–  –  –

committed the company to the “value” of “human rights and social justice” and to “support and respect the protection of international human rights within our sphere of influence” and to “not be complicit in human rights abuses.”1209 Southern Politicians in Khartoum Denounce Oil Companies, November 1999 Southern opposition politicians based in Khartoum were following international developments and issued a statement in response to the announcement that a Canadian fact-finding team would investigate human rights abuses in Sudan. On November 3, 1999, the Union of Sudan African Parties (USAP), a registered party, denounced the role of oil companies in the south and called on the Sudanese government to suspend immediately all oil operations there and to concentrate on the resolution of the causes of the conflict and the realization of a just and lasting peace in Sudan.1210 The statement’s significance was in part due to the fact that it came from a political party representing southerners living in the north, operating within the system.1211 USAP did not denounce the government, but focused all blame on the oil companies, mentioning Talisman by name for hiring agents in Europe, North America, and elsewhere to launch “foolish propaganda that claims that [the] people of Southern Sudan are incapable of appreciating the economic advantages which petroleum exploitation in Southern Sudan will offer to them.” It accused Talisman of

knowing “very well” that what the Dinka and Nuer are currently experiencing in their “invaded land” is:

brutal death, wanton destruction of their homes and huge unprecedented displacement of whole families and clans. Their ancestral land has instead become a theatre of war, 1209 International Code of Ethics for Canadian Business.

1210 “Statement by the USAP on Oil,” reprinted in Sudan Democratic Gazette, Year X [10], no. 115, London, December 1999, p. 9.

1211 As with all other political parties in Sudan, USAP was banned when the current government came into office in 1989, and it registered as a political party under 1999 legislation authorizing political associations.





–  –  –

The statement charged, “Nothing in the Unity State, not even life of a citizen, is too precious to spare, if the oil companies believe it constitutes an obstacle or threat to their interest.”1213 Talisman Takes Oil Analysts on Company Tour of Sudan, November 1999 Talisman swung into a public relations campaign. It responded to the Canadian foreign minister’s announcement that the government was sending a fact-finding delegation to Sudan by quickly organizing a public relations tour of its project for Canadian and U.S. oil industry analysts, who were less human rights-oriented, more likely to be sympathetic to the industry perspective, and perhaps less likely to know anything about Sudan or Africa.

The analysts and journalists apparently were presented with a misleading version of life at Talisman’s operations center at Heglig. The military Antonovs and helicopters—that the Sudanese army had been using for bombing runs in the south—were moved away from the Heglig corporate airstrip prior to the trip and relocated to another base not on the foreigners’ itinerary, according to the report later written by the Canadian government human rights delegation.1214 Flying over the Heglig oil facilities, CEO Buckee pointed out to the financial analysts and press what he said was “proof” of the absence of forced eviction: the tracks of seismic tests made some twenty-five 1212 “Statement by the USAP on Oil.” 1213 Ibid. As a result, the statement continued, whole villages were burned down, and many residents were shot with bullets “acquired with oil money.” Ibid.

1214 Harker report, p. 15.

–  –  –

years ago by Chevron.1215 He asserted that if villages had been forcibly evacuated to make room for oil development, there would be signs similar to these tracks.1216 Burned-out villages would be visible from the plane, however, only if the plane were flying near them.

Heglig is in Block 2, in the northern part of the oil area. The more recent evictions and village destructions took place further to the south; the burned out villages in the Gumriak area are perhaps seventy-five miles from Heglig base camp.

As one journalist wrote:

During the four-day visit, the analysts saw no evidence of conflict.... [A]t Heglig, the site of one of Talisman’s major oilfields and processing facilities, there is no evidence of population displacement. Military presence is low key. Children are playing and going to school near the oil wells.1217 Journalists were shown a new school and a small hospital. According to schoolteacher Mahmoud Hassan, “The nomads can use the schools, markets and the hospital.”1218 But the previous residents were Nuer and Dinka, not the Baggara who are referred to as “nomads.”1219 1215 See satellite image, http://rightsmaps.com/html/sudsat1.html (accessed June 5, 2001), go to Umm Sagura and Munga oilfields for images of seismic tracks.

1216 “Seeking Riches in Sudan,” Calgary Herald, November 20, 1999. This assumes that the plane actually flew over villages allegedly destroyed, a fact not in evidence.

1217 Claudia Cattaneo with Carol Howes, “Analysts upbeat about Talisman’s Sudan role,” November 17, 1999.

1218 Rosalind Russell, “Sudan’s new oil riches could bring wealth or war,” Reuters, Heglig oilfield, Sudan, November 18, 1999.

Russell was based in Nairobi, unlike most of the journalists on the trip.

1219 As set forth above, the census and most Sudanese do not regard Nuer and Dinka as nomads. They are regarded as “rural” in the census, and from a social science or anthropological point of view are transhumant, that is, practicing a form of pastoralism (or nomadism) organized around the seasonal migration of livestock. Transhumance is practiced in those parts of the world where there

–  –  –

When CEO Buckee wrote his November 23, 1999, letter to Talisman shareholders shortly after taking journalists on this visit to Sudan, he referred to and elaborated on their reports as corroboration of his

statement that there was no forced displacement in the oilfields:

We recently visited the area with a large contingent of Canadian and US analysts, representing large reputable banks and brokerage houses, as well as several journalists.

They also note the lack of any permanent habitation of the vast, empty plains. Seismic lines cut by Chevron over 20 years ago are still clearly visible, as the “footprint” of villages would be, had there been any....1220 The plight of the displaced was in vivid contrast to the conditions the oil workers in Western Upper Nile/Unity State enjoyed. As one Nairobi-based journalist traveling with the financial press group

observed:

All are vulnerable to hunger, but unlike the oil companies—which operate daily charter flights to transport staff and supplies—WFP has been unable to reach the needy due to a government ban on aid flights to most of Unity State.1221 Buckee wrote another letter to shareholders on November 27, 1999, after his return from escorting the financial press through the Talisman project in Sudan. The letter specifically referred to the allegations of

forced displacement:

I would like to make it clear that Talisman is vehemently opposed to forced relocation for oil development and I personally believe such practices are abhorrent. In five years of operation, staff in the field have not seen any evidence of forced displacement or are mountains, highlands, or other areas that are too cold (or too flooded, in the case of Sudan) to be utilized for grazing throughout the year.

1220 J.W. Buckee, letter to Talisman shareholders, “Letter to Shareholders – Sudan,” Calgary, November 23, 1999.

1221 Rosalind Russell, “Sudan’s new oil riches could bring wealth or war,” November 18, 1999.

–  –  –

relocation in our area of operations, which is located on a flood plain with minimal permanent settlements, as it is largely underwater for several months each year. We have diligently investigated these allegations and have found them to have no basis in fact.1222 What was the “diligent investigation” that Talisman conducted before writing this November 1999 letter? Legal Counsel and Vice President Jackie Sheppard told Human Rights Watch in February 2000 that she visited Pariang, a government garrison town near Gumriak in Block 1, and asked a head chief if there was any displacement in the area. The chief said there was not. Ms. Sheppard did note that there were various government security officials present at the interview.1223 The Harker team was also curious about the investigation Talisman claimed to have carried out. While in

Sudan, they discussed the investigation with the person assigned to carry it out, and reported:

It is our information that no formal report of the investigation exists, and from the investigator himself we now know that he has never been to Pariang, the center of the May 1999 actions and subsequent allegations, nor even to Bentiu, currently the center for the [Maj. Gen. Paulino] Matiep forces engaged in a struggle, certainly linked to oil, with the “SSDF” forces formerly linked to Riek Machar.1224 Talisman met with Human Rights Watch representatives on February 3, 2000, in Calgary. The meeting lasted several hours. Forced displacement was discussed, as was U.N. Special Rapporteur Franco’s report (the Harker report had not yet been released). CEO Buckee presented several photographs of empty plains to “show” that when they arrived in the area, no people were living there. They were logically inadequate to establish the proposition that no one lived in the large concession or near any of the many 1222 Buckee, letter to shareholders, November 27, 1999.

1223 Talisman officials, interview, February 3, 2000.

1224 Harker report, p. 63.

–  –  –

GNPOC facilities in 1998. If anything, they might demonstrate that the government’s forced removal program was successful.

Human Rights Watch pointed out to Talisman on maps the locations and progress of the fighting that produced tens of thousands of internally displaced persons noted by the U.N. for the years 1999 and previously. Human Rights Watch pointed out the areas from which people had been displaced and to which they fled. The Talisman officials claimed again to have no knowledge of the displacement.

The Harker Report The Canadian government human rights delegation led by John Harker1225 visited the north and the south of Sudan in December 1999 and received many testimonies. The human rights team found that oil development was exacerbating the conflict and that Talisman’s presence was making things worse.



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