Marks the third lawsuit filed in connection with alleged human rights abuses at Barrick's Tanzanian gold mine
By Gabriel Friedman, Financial Post
A group of Tanzanian citizens on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corp. in Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice, citing violations of international human rights standards and alleging security forces around its North Mara mine killed five local residents and beat, shot and tortured nine others.
It marks the third lawsuit filed in connection with alleged human rights abuses at the company’s Tanzanian gold mine; the previous suits were filed in courts in the United Kingdom.
Barrick had ceded control of the mine to a subsidiary, but in 2019 regained operational control through a joint venture deal with the Tanzanian government. Although Barrick has repeatedly said it has resolved human rights issues at the mine, according to the lawsuit, human rights abuses have increased in recent years, such that during 2021 and 2022 there have been at least five killings, five incidents of torture and five other shootings.
The 56-page lawsuit asserts claims of negligence against Barrick under Ontario law and claims that Barrick breached customary international law and human rights standards, making it liable for the deaths and injuries to local residents. It is filed on behalf of alleged victims and their families, including widows and children.
“The case alleges Barrick is responsible for the violence committed by mine police and security,” said Joe Fiorante, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs. “This case is another step in attempting to hold Canadian mining companies responsible for their overseas human right abuses.
Catherine Coumans, co-manager of MiningWatch Canada in Ottawa, who has visited the communities around North Mara and written about alleged human rights abuses, said that Bristow had visited local villages in recent years and had promised to improve relations.
But she said that by giving Tanzania an ownership stake in the mine, local residents no longer feel safe bringing grievances to local politicians.
“Every family there has lost someone, or has someone who was maimed,” said Coumans. “It’s just incomprehensible to me that this has been going on for well over a decade and this is now the third lawsuit on the same issues … something needs to change.”
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