Barrick Gold urged to come clean on rape victims’ compensation

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Radio New Zealand

The Canadian miner Barrick Gold is being urged to come clean about its handling of compensation for women raped by employees at its Porgera Joint Venture in Papua New Guinea’s Enga province.

Under Barrick’s “remedy programme” it provided compensation to 120 rape victims who had to sign legal waivers that they would not sue Barrick in civil court.

However, eleven other victims rejected the settlement and with representation by EarthRights International, negotiated a separate, far higher compensation from Barrick.

Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada told Johnny Blades that this angered the 120 women:

CATHERINE COUMANS: You know, they signed away their legal rights, nonetheless Barrick talked them up with another 30,000 kina but that brings them still to one-fourth of what the other women had received and so this is an ongoing issue. Now Barrick is being very quiet about this, there’s also no explanation being given by Barrick about why they’ve decided to give these women an additional 30,000, but there’s also no explanation about why Barrick isn’t just giving the 120 women the same amount that the women got who were represented by Earth Rights International. And it brings Barrick’s entire remedy programme into question.

JOHNNY BLADES: Just establishing again, people in Barrick Gold’s employment raped these women. Were they ever taken to task in the local judicial system? Did police investigate?

CC: Yeah this is of course a real problem, so what we are talking about are women who were raped — gang raped, very often beaten, you know these were often extremely brutal events — by personnel of Barrick’s Porgera venture mine. And when I interviewed women about this over a number of years, what very often was the case was that either they didn’t know who had raped them, because these were very often security guards who come from all over the place, they’re not local. So the women often didn’t know who it was, and then often they would say that these people, even if they did think they knew who it was, then the person would disappear so they would no longer be working at the mine, they would suddenly be moved out. But even if they filed complaints with police they were very often arrested because the police would often then say ‘well if you were raped by the security guard then you must have been trespassing’, and by trespassing they mean basically walking out onto the huge waste flows that surround this mine because the mine is dumping all of its waste rock and tailings directly into the surrounding environment, so these people have to cross these waste flows just to get from one part of the village to another. But that’s called trespassing and that would then give security guards permission, in their mind, to take action against these women and rape them — and very often they would rape them and then bring them to the police department and say ‘these people were trespassing’ and get the police to lock them up.

JB: How are things there on the ground these days? Are these rapes still going on? Are these pack rapes and assaults, do you know if the situation has improved?

CC: We understand that it has improved, that it’s not as extreme as it was for the many, many years that we were recording this information and bringing it to Barrick and having Barrick deny it. Now that Barrick is no longer denying that this has been happening and has been going on for a very long time it seems that the situation has somewhat improved. It’s hard to say because one of the things we discovered in doing the interviews that we did was that women were very often only willing to speak about the fact that this had happened to them around two years after it had happened.

2 Comments

Filed under Human rights, Papua New Guinea

2 responses to “Barrick Gold urged to come clean on rape victims’ compensation

  1. If Barrick Gold urged to come clean on rape victims’ compensation, that means all of the killing and brutal raping by its employees have been done with and theres no more cases to be dealt with. But what about the people who are still going to the dumpsite, river tailing/stockpiles to look for the same pracious mineral that Barrick is also mining.
    The 120 rape victims who were compensated K50,000 each are not satisfied with it because Barrick has been unfair to them by paying compensation to 11 other women in ATA 3 times more. Theres two female experts from human rights law and Canadian mine watch, namely Serah Knucky and Cathrine coughman should have a clear understanding on how the 120 rape victims feel about Barricks unfairness with the compensations paid to them and the 11 females with same cases as theirs. The remedies entitled to them were not given to them as listed on the final acquittal from the Porgera Remedial Framework Assessment(PRFA). Serah Knucky and Cathrine Coughman were the only experts who have interviewed the claimants and women from remote villages in Porgera so they should have a fair idea.
    Securities employees of Barrick raping and killing has been going on for many years and there’s nothing one could do to atleast minimise the problem. Which means its a begining of a liabillity to Barrick and the company must be ready to face the fact.
    People who lives in villages nearby the dump area are still going there, even though they know what would happen if the mine securities catches them.
    Barrick should relocate landowners, living in villages near the dump away from the mining area to be clean and to run an undisturbed business in Porgera, Enga Province of Papua New Guinea.
    voiceofporgera

  2. Why cant barrick open its eyes to its real problems by engaging local Porgerans of Enga in Papua new Guinea instead of involving people who came to Porgera seeking employment just to have comfortable lives. There’s many literate Porgerans who can be able to atleast help minimise this liability in Barricks basket but the people engaged were always outsiders. These outsiders dont know the Porgeran Society, the custom, the language and how they live their life in their society.
    Barrick had played its part to pay compensations to women raped by its employees as axpected and accepted in Porgeran society but Barrick-PJV had
    to be fair and just. The K50,000 paid to 120 rape victims is 3 times less then the other 11 claimants from ATA with same cases as theirs. The more claimants paid less and few paid more is another burden on Barrick because such people who worked in the office of Porgera Remedial Framework Assessment ( PRFA) have not worked according to their authorities expectations by distributing remedies as reported in the final acquittal. Cheaters lie and take someone elses benefits because of the benefactors limited understanding.
    Barrick should by now look forward to relocate landowners living in nearby villages away from the mine area to stop illegal mining as it calls and other problems from happening.

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