Remedy Gone Wrong: Barrick Gold’s Grievance Mechanism in Tanzania Deepens Harm

Catherine Coumans Ph.D., Research Coordinator and Asia-Pacific regional program coordinator.

MiningWatch Canada has carried out and reported on yearly human rights assessments at Barrick Gold’s North Mara Gold Mine in Tanzania since 2014. We have interviewed well over a hundred victims of violence at the hands of private and public mine security at the mine, including killings, maiming, rape, and gang rape. In December 2016, Barrick Gold’s majority-owned subsidiary (64%) Acacia started to implement a new company-led, non-judicial, Operation-level Grievance Mechanism for victims of human rights abuses caused, or contributed to, by the operations of the North Mara Gold Mine.

MiningWatch reviewed the Standard Operating Procedure for the mine’s new grievance mechanism in 2018 and found it does not meet most of the UN Guiding Principles Effectiveness Criteria; it is overly controlled by the mine; and the extraordinarily large power imbalance between largely illiterate and impoverished villagers and the mine’s legal and investigative team, which implements the mechanism, is not addressed and disadvantages the victims in the process. Also in 2018, MiningWatch interviewed victims of excess use of force by mine security and police who had entered the new remedy mechanism only to find the harm of the violence they had endured compounded by an unfair grievance process that is largely out of compliance with its own operating procedures. A video MiningWatch produced of women speaking out publically for the first time about the rape they have endured and the lack of equitable remedy emphasizes the urgent need for a fair Operation-level Grievance Mechanism at the North Mara mine.