Mark Bristow, President and CEO, Barrick Gold Corp. Via e-mail: [email protected]
February 24, 2023
Re: Response to your letter of February 14, 2023
We appreciate that you express concern regarding the information we have provided you in our letter of January 27, 2023, about the forced evictions ongoing in Komarera village. We have posted your February 14, 2023 response on our site.
We are considering your request that we:
particularize the testimonies you refer to, provide us with the footage of the scenes you describe, and that you explain to us in detail: a) your methodology for obtaining the information said to support your allegations; b) the due diligence applied in corroborating and verifying your information; and c) how you have independently verified the accounts in your letter and report.
You will appreciate the extremely sensitive nature of this information and the very real risk of harm to local human rights defenders, as well as of further harm to those who have already suffered human rights abuses related to the evictions. We cannot disclose information that will breach the confidentiality of those whose identities we have undertaken to protect.
May I assure you that this information will be treated with the utmost care, and will be only used to allow Barrick and North Mara to investigate these allegations further.
We would appreciate receiving further details regarding safeguards Barrick undertakes for human rights defenders at North Mara and for those who have already suffered harm through the forced evictions.
We appreciate that you say that Barrick and North Mara wish to further investigate the issues we have brought to your attention. We are confident that you have the necessary information and capacity to do so. We are aware that our communications with you, regarding the harm being done to villagers of Komarera through the ongoing forced evictions, are not the only information you have that the evictions process is causing distress among villagers of Komarera.
As we noted in our letter of October 18, 2022, 32 Kuria villagers were granted a restraining order, through the High Court of Tanzania, against North Mara Gold Mine Limited, on August 25, 2022, to stop their land, houses, and agricultural plants and trees from being bulldozed. We are also aware that on December 5, 2022, the High Court of Tanzania upheld this restraining order. Additionally, on the 25th of January 2023, another case was filed with the High Court of Tanzania against North Mara Gold Mine Limited on behalf of 28 plaintiffs who were evicted and who allege: That in the course of the said unlawful acquisition, alienation, demolition and eviction, the Defendant also destroyed the Plaintiffs’ houses, crops, and various types of stored grains and cereals; the Plaintiffs have been left without any means of livelihood.
While we certainly support Barrick investigating these allegations, we recommend that there be an independent and transparent investigation of the evictions process by a credible third party at arms-length from Barrick and North Mara Gold Mine Limited.
For our part, we will actively seek an independent, credible, third party to work with us, and with Barrick, to address these concerns. In the meantime we urge Barrick, as we did in our October 18, 2022 and January 27, 2023 letters, to:
- voluntarily and urgently halt the assessment and forced eviction process;
- carry out a transparent due diligence process on the issues we have brought to your attention, preferably by an independent third party, and make that report public;
- ensure that people who have already been harmed by this process are identified, receive equitable compensation for their loses and a rights-based resettlement;
- revise the resettlement process going forward to align it with international human rights standards and the rights of the vulnerable people affected by the mine expansion.
Catherine Coumans, Ph.D. MiningWatch Canada
cc: Mr. Balakrishnan Rajagopal, UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Email: [email protected]
Executive Director Anna Henga Legal and Human Rights Centre Justice Lugakingira House, P. O. Box 75254, Kijitonyama Dar es salaam, Tanzania. Email: [email protected]
High Commissioner Pamela O'Donnell High Commission of Canada to Tanzania 26 Garden Avenue/38 Mirambo street, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, email: [email protected]