MAC: Mines and Communities

PNG - "Small Business Grants" For Survivors of Brutal Rapes by Barrick Guards

Published by MAC on 2014-11-21
Source: Statement (2014-11-21)

Survivors of Rape by Barrick Gold Security Guards Offered “Business Grants” and “Training” in Exchange for Waiving Legal Rights

Earthrights International press release

21 November 2014

Human rights advocates denounce Barrick’s reparations process in Papua New Guinea as inconsistent with international law and inadequate to remedy brutal rapes

Washington DC and Porgera, Papua New Guinea — Approximately 200 women who survived brutal rapes by Barrick Gold’s security guards in Papua New Guinea were asked to waive their legal rights in exchange for small “business grants” and “business training,” a reparations process that human rights and women’s rights advocates are criticizing as inadequate and designed to protect the Canadian gold company rather than remedy the abuses.

For years, security guards at Barrick’s Porgera mine have brutally raped and gang-raped hundreds of local women and girls. The mine’s ever-expanding waste dumps surround communities and bury farms, leaving girls with no option but to cross through the dumps to reach school, and leaving many women with few livelihood options than to scavenge for gold. As documented by local human rights group Akali Tange Association (ATA), as well as a 2011 Human Rights Watch report, Barrick’s security guards patrolling the dumps have repeatedly preyed upon these women and girls.

In 2012 Barrick set up its Remedial Framework to provide reparations to the victims. That process is now finished, and those familiar with the process are speaking out.

“Barrick’s so-called ‘remedial framework’ in fact failed to remedy anything,” said Kerry Kennedy, noted women’s rights advocate and President of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. “Rather, the framework put the company’s interests before justice, in no way fulfilling Barrick’s responsibility to the hundreds of women who were raped by its employees.”

Barrick claimed that it would make individual assessments of each woman’s needs and offer a flexible benefits package that might include appropriate financial reparations or even relocation where appropriate. But the Framework was not run as promised. As documents released today show, the benefits packages were largely made up of a “business training” program set up by Barrick, after which the women could get a “business grant” of 15,000 kina – about $6000. With other small elements, such as fees for children’s education and a “financial supplement” of up to 5,000 kina ($2000), the value of almost every package came to the same figure – 21,320 kina (about $8500). No exceptions were made to the mandatory business training program – not even for an 87-year-old woman.

In exchange, documents show, the women – mostly highly impoverished, traumatized, and often illiterate – had to promise never to sue Barrick.

“Some of the women felt they had no choice but to accept the benefits offered,” said Marco Simons, Legal Director of EarthRights International (ERI), which represented dozens of women in the process. “One of our clients told us how she was brutally beaten, cut with a knife and raped by more than 10 Barrick guards, left unable to have children, and then abandoned by her husband and ostracized by her community. She was angered by what the Remedial Framework offered. But she felt she could not reject the benefits because she needed medical treatment; her injuries still made it painful for her to walk.”

“Some of our clients did, however, refuse the benefits,” added Simons. “As far as we know, the only women who refused to sign Barrick’s legal waiver were those represented by ERI – in other words, those who thought they might have other options.”

Tricia Feeney, Executive Director of UK-based Rights & Accountability in Development (RAID), noted that the Framework’s approach “abandoned fundamental human rights principles. The Porgera program offered women a standardized reparation package that did not reflect the severity of the harm they had suffered. In return, at minimal cost to itself, the company sought to avoid legal liabilities and refurbish its reputation.”

Many women demanded reparations according to their culture, in which disputes are settled with valuable compensation. In a surprising statement, the Remedial Framework’s Advisory Panel specifically rejected this, suggesting that providing compensation according to Porgeran culture and international human rights norms would not “respect the dignity” of the women.

ATA spokesperson Jethro Tulin denounced the Remedial Framework’s approach. “Barrick did not consult with local women or the ATA in designing the Framework. They did not recognize that compensation is culturally appropriate in Porgera. And they have made no effort to remedy other abuses, including killings by Barrick’s security guards.”

“When Barrick acquired the Porgera mine, it had a chance to do the right thing,” said Catherine Coumans of Mining Watch Canada, which has monitored the Porgera mine for years and raised concerns about the Remedial Framework from the beginning. “Instead, Barrick allowed the rampant sexual violence to continue and refused to relocate local people to less degraded land.”
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Fact Sheet on Porgera Mine
Photograph of Porgera Mine

Documents:

Statement from Remedial Framework Advisory Panel rejecting compensation demands
Remedial Framework benefits package (name redacted)
Remedial Framework benefits package (name redacted)
Remedial Framework final contract including agreement not to sue Barrick (name redacted)

Contact:

Valentina Stackl (USA)                      
+1 (202) 466 5188 x100        
valentina[at]earthrights.org
 

EarthRights International (ERI) is a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization that combines the power of law and the power of people in defense of human rights and the environment, which we define as "earth rights." We specialize in fact-finding, legal actions against perpetrators of earth rights abuses, training grassroots and community leaders, and advocacy campaigns, and have offices in Southeast Asia, the United States and Peru. More information on ERI is available at http://www.earthrights.org


Lawyers Say Barrick Thwarts Access to Justice for Victims of Violence

MiningWatch Canada press release

27 November 2014

(Ottawa) New evidence is emerging that Barrick Gold’s dealings with victims of violence by mine security and police at mine sites in Papua New Guinea and in Tanzania is primarily designed to protect the company from legal action, rather than to provide fair remedy for women who have been raped and men who have been hurt or killed by mine security.

Lawyers who represent victims of violence at the Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and at the North Mara mine in Tanzania are speaking out.

On Friday, U.S.-based EarthRights International released documents that reveal how the compensation process Barrick has put in place at the Porgera mine to deal with victims of rape by the company’s mine’s security trades inadequate benefit packages for a promise never to sue Barrick. Documents reveal that women who reject the packages or ask for other forms of remedy are being turned away by the program.

“Some of the women felt they had no choice but to accept the benefits offered,” said Marco Simons, Legal Director of EarthRights International (ERI), which represented dozens of women in the process. “One of our clients told us how she was brutally beaten, cut with a knife and raped by more than 10 Barrick guards, left unable to have children, and then abandoned by her husband and ostracized by her community. She was angered by what the Remedial Framework offered. But she felt she could not reject the benefits because she needed medical treatment; her injuries still made it painful for her to walk.”

“Some of our clients did, however, refuse the benefits,” added Simons. “As far as we know, the only women who refused to sign Barrick’s legal waiver were those represented by ERI – in other words, those who thought they might have other options.”

In a visit to Ottawa on November 6, 2014, Shanta Martin, a partner at UK-based law firm Leigh Day, spoke out about the firm’s Tanzanian clients who are pursuing claims against African Barrick Gold (now called Acacia Mining) and its Tanzanian subsidiary in the High Court of England and Wales for deaths and injuries they claim were a result of the excessive use of force by mine security and police, including the frequent use of live ammunition. 

In its press release Martin said, “Impoverished people from remote rural villages who sue multinational companies often face incredible obstacles to having their claims heard by an independent arbiter,” said Martin. “Our clients naturally expect companies that say they are transparent and supportive of human rights to live up to those claims.” 

As in Papua New Guinea, Barrick’s North Mara mine in Tanzania has implemented a compensation process to deal with victims of excessive violence by mine security. And as in PNG, victims of violence have to sign away their right to sue the company in return for compensation, however inadequate. MiningWatch Canada and UK-based Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID) conducted a human rights assessment at the North Mara mine in July and August and found that the mine’s compensation program is not transparent, not independent of the company, that the compensation being offered is neither appropriate nor reflective of the deaths and serious harm that victims have suffered, and that it is not what the victims themselves said they need to overcome the harm. 

MiningWatch and RAID also found that clients of Leigh Day were being targeted by North Mara mine personnel to persuade them to drop their law suit in return for this inadequate compensation. 

In its release, Leigh Day confirmed that many of their clients stated they had been specifically targeted to forgo their legal claims and sign up to the mine’s grievance mechanism.

“The PNG and Tanzanian cases clearly demonstrate an abuse of so-called project level grievance mechanisms to ensure legal immunity for Barrick at a high cost to the victims of violence,” says Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada. “It is questionable whether company-led project-level  grievance mechanisms should even be dealing with criminal acts by mine security, but if they do they should absolutely not result in legal waivers that create barriers to access to judicial remedy.”

Both the Government of Canada and the Mining Association of Canada are currently drafting guidance for the use of project-level non-judicial grievance mechanisms. The issue is also front and centre at the upcoming UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva in December.

For more information, or to set up an interview with victims, contact:

Catherine Coumans, tel: 613-569-3439, catherine[at]miningwatch.ca

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See Leigh Day's news release of November 6, 2014.

 

 

 

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