Victims of Violence at Barrick Mines in Papua New Guinea and Tanzania Demand Justice

(Ottawa) Villagers living around Barrick Gold’s Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea and North Mara mine in Tanzania are suffering from violence at the hands of mine security and police guarding the mines. Women have been beaten and raped and men have been maimed and killed by mine security at both mines.

Barrick is aware of the ongoing human rights abuses at the Porgera mine and selectively provided remedy packages to some victims in return for legal waivers. However, the remedy process is not reaching all victims, is not equitable, and is not meeting victims’ needs. MiningWatch Canada has documented the failures of Barrick’s remedy programs at both mines.

“At the Porgera mine, many women who were raped by security guards have not received remedy because they were unaware of Barrick’s short term program,” says Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada. “We have informed Barrick of this problem, as have human rights experts from Harvard and Columbia Universities, as well as Barrick’s own consultants.”

Barrick says these women can now file claims with the mine’s regular grievance mechanism, but many have done so and had no response from the mine. The grievance mechanism also has not provided remedy to any of the families of men killed by mine security. Furthermore, the compensation received by 119 rape victims through a short-term program set up by Barrick was a quarter that received by eleven rape victims from Porgera who had independent legal counsel. The 119 rape victims had to sign legal waivers in return for their remedy, but they are now demanding remedy equal to the women who had independent legal counsel, pointing out that the 119 did not receive fair process.

In Tanzania, the remedy mechanism at Barrick’s North Mara mine is not run independently of the mine. The victims are not given fair process, they do not have independent legal counsel throughout the process, their remedy is not equitable, and they too must sign away their legal rights through waivers. MiningWatch Canada and UK-based Rights and Accountability in Development have conducted human rights field assessments at the mine and have interviewed over 80 victims. Very few of these have received any form of remedy through the mine and the remedy they have received does not address their long-term medical and economic needs.

“It is very clear that Barrick is far more interested in receiving legal waivers from vulnerable victims of mine security than in providing fair remedy through a fair process at its violent mine sites,” says Coumans. “Barrick needs to open up the remedy program at the North Mara mine to a transparent review process that involves both victims and eternal human rights experts and involved stakeholders.”

Contact:  Catherine Coumans, MiningWatch Canada, 613-569-3439, [email protected]

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