Barrick Confronted by Indigenous Women from Papua New Guinea at AGM

(Toronto) Today, for the first time, Barrick’s directors and shareholders heard directly from two women who have suffered sexual violence at the hands of mine security at the company’s massive Porgera Joint Venture mine in Papua New Guinea.

The two indigenous Ipili women were chosen by fellow villagers living adjacent to the open pit gold mine and its vast waste flows to make the long trip to Canada. They spoke out about ongoing violence suffered by community members as a result of excess use of force by mine security and about the lack of access to equitable remedy for those who have been harmed.

Barrick’s directors and shareholders were alerted to criminal behaviour by mine security at shareholders’ meetings in 2008, 2009 and 2010, by local Ipili men who repeatedly made the trip to Canada. After years of denial the company finally accepted the need to provide limited remedy, but as Ms. Everlyn Gaupe and Ms. Joycelyn Mandi testified, the company’s response, between 2012-2014, has failed to address the ongoing violence against local villagers, and the remedy offered to only some women was not equitable.

“Barrick did not consult us 119 women on the remedy we needed for all the consequences we faced from the rapes” says Ms. Gaupe, “it was take it or leave it and Barrick’s consultants told us we were powerless against the company. Barrick needs to remove the legal waivers we had to sign and come back to have an open dialogue with us about what is fair remedy, or let us take our cases to court.”

As MiningWatch Canada, human rights clinics at Harvard and Columbia University and Barrick’s own consultants have found, Barrick closed down the remedy program after only 119 women were provided limited remedy, but many more women, including Ms. Joycelyn Mandi, failed to have their cases heard.

“I came to Canada to represent the many women who have been raped and gang raped by mine security and by police working for Barrick who have never received any remedy” says Ms. Mandi, “there are many of us who never knew about the remedy program because we left our villages out of shame after we were raped. Others did not trust the program, or want to go there because then everyone would know they had been raped.”

Ms. Mandi’s case, and that of many other women, has been provided to the mine’s grievance office but there has been no response for over a year.

“We are back to the days of denial” says Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada, “back to the need for people from Porgera to travel half way across the world to speak to Barrick’s directors and shareholders to signal that there is still a very serious problem. Barrick seems to have learned nothing from this shameful history. It is time for Barrick to stop using violent security and to provide equitable remedy to those who have been harmed.”

For more information and to reach Ms. Gaupe and Ms. Mandi contact: Catherine Coumans, MiningWatch Canada; [email protected];  613-569-3439

See also:

  • Background brief on this issue
  • Statements from Everlyn Guape and Joycelyn Mandi at Barrick Gold's 2017 AGM
  • Video presented by Porgeran rape victims at the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in November 2016
  • Request for assistance from Porgeran rape victims to the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights presented in November 2016.