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News Release

MiningWatch Appeals to U.N. over Human Rights Abuses Related to Barrick Mine in Papua New Guinea

MiningWatch Canada has sent an Urgent Appeal to several United Nations Special Rapporteurs regarding human rights abuses near Barrick Gold’s Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) mine in Papua New Guinea.

On April 18, 2009, more than 200 troops including four mobile units, an air tactical unit, and intelligence officials from the PNG Defence Force were deployed in Porgera in an operation named “Operation Ipili ’09.” On April 27 MiningWatch began to receive reports and pictures of house burnings in villages of indigenous Ipili landowners located within the PJV Special Mine Lease area. Local news services indicate that more than 300 houses have been burned down. MiningWatch has also received reports that landowners who resisted the burning of their houses were beaten and arrested.

These actions violate the right to housing and the right to security of the person, as well as rights of indigenous peoples. MiningWatch is further concerned about the possibility of violence leading to death, as there has been a history of killings of landowners by security forces associated with the Porgera Joint Venture mine. The possible role of the Porgera Joint Venture’s security forces in “Operation Ipili ’09” is of central concern as there is a confidential agreement dating back to 2005 between the government of Papua New Guinea and the Porgera Joint Venture mine that sets out terms and responsibilities for security at the mine.

“It is known that the PJV mine has provided support to state police actions related to security at the mine site in the past,” says MiningWatch spokesperson Catherine Coumans. “It is important for Canadians to know what, if any, involvement Barrick’s security forces had in the house burnings and whether Barrick provided logistical or other forms of support to the operation.” 

Barrick has not made any public statements with regard to the burning of houses or the alleged abuses in its Special Mine Lease area.

“We call on Barrick to clearly and publicly condemn the burning of houses in the Porgera Joint Venture’s Special Mine Lease area by military and police associated with ‘Operation Ipili ’09’.” says Coumans.

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For more information contact;
Catherine Coumans: [email protected]; 613-569-3439

See attached copy of MiningWatch Canada’s Urgent Appeal to the United Nations.