Tag Archives: women

Australian government and academics back ‘insulting’ Barrick compensation package

The Sydney Morning Herald and The Guardian have released details of an out-of-court settlement reached with rape victims, assaulted by Barrick Gold employees. This comes after a number of victims refused to accept packages offered by Barrick Gold, through their ‘Remediation Program’, which would have denied victims access to justice.  Instead these women initiated legal proceedings in the US against Barrick, which forced the company’s hand.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

‘Eleven women and girls who were raped, gang-raped or violently molested in the Papua New Guinea Highlands have reached an out-of-court settlement with the world’s biggest gold miner, having refused to accept the “insulting” compensation paid to 120 fellow victims of the company’s security guards.

“It would be like accepting lollies as compensation,” one of the 11 told Fairfax Media … The remedial framework compensation package was very low by local customary standards, say Jane Doe 10 and another of the 11 women, Jane Doe 2. To accept it would “add disgrace to the disgrace”, Jane Doe 10 said’.

Mining Watch Canada, who has been a stalwart in this campaign for justice, claims:

‘This case proves once again that victims of criminal acts at the hands of employees of companies such as Barrick Gold absolutely require truly independent legal counsel to ensure their legal and human rights are protected’. They also allege ‘our interviews with victims of rape by mine security in 2008, 2009 and 2013 provided evidence not only of the incredible extent of the problem, but also, once Barrick started offering ‘remedy packages,’ that women were insulted by what they were being offered’.

Yet not everyone accepts this point of view, a range of actors from Australia have claimed that these ‘insulting’ compensation packages were good enough for PNG women, given local cultural norms.

Australia’s Department of Foreign and Trade, states :

‘In 2011 Barrick started implementing a major project, Olgeta Meri Igat Raits (All Women Have Rights); which included a two stage remediation framework.

The remediation framework entailed an individual claims process designed for women who have been the subject of sexual violence or abuse by former employees of the PJV. The second part of the project was the development of community activities designed to provide services to all women who have experienced violence. Currently, the individual claims process has been completed, with over 120 claims assessed and agreed upon; many with remedies already in place. Remedy packages were developed through discussions between claimants and members of the Framework team, and tailored to the specific circumstances of each claimant.

They consist of a range of services and financial support components (such as business development grants, trade good credits and bank savings accounts) that will provide a lasting benefit for the claimant … The project is managed through a trust primarily funded by Barrick. It is overseen by an independent body of experts including prominent PNG citizens including: Dame Carol Kidu (former Parliamentarian and Cabinet Minister) and Ume Wainetti, the National Director of the PNG Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee. The focus is on the community programming work with the development and implementation of community projects a priority’.

Barrick also found strong support from the State Society and Governance in Melanesia program, a multi-million dollar Canberra think-tank funded from Australia’s aid budget:

‘The second initiative, the PRF (Porgera Remediation Framework), offers compensation and livelihood opportunities to women and men who have been identified as victims of assault by Barrick employees. Uncertain as to how to translate international human rights standards into an effective remediation package in Porgera’s complex social environment, Barrick drew upon the knowledge of leading figures in Papua New Guinea, including Ume Wainetti and Dame Carol Kidu.

The PRF has been criticised by organisations such as MiningWatch Canada for clauses which obstruct PRF beneficiaries from taking further legal action against Barrick. However, informants involved in the delivery of the PRF defended it on the basis that it offers opportunities that might not otherwise be available through formal judicial mechanisms’.

This support for Barrick is part of a broader movement backed by the Australian government which argues that corporate actors in the Pacific would be best governed through voluntary human rights codes, and public-private partnerships. While the rule of law is good enough for some, it appears Papua New Guineans do not meet the standard of humanity required.

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Barrick Settlement on rapes and killings in Papua New Guinea proof that victims need Independent Legal Counsel

Cases of Other Local Victims of Violence Need Review

Mining Watch Canada

Eleven of at least 120 women who claim to have been raped and gang raped by security guards at Barrick Gold’s Porgera Joint Venture mine in Papua New Guinea, and three of many more men and their families who claim to have been the victims of violence and killing by security guards, have finally got equitable settlements. These fortunate claimants were the clients of lawyers with US-based EarthRights International, who was prepared to file legal cases on their behalf.

“This case proves once again that victims of criminal acts at the hands of employees of companies such as Barrick Gold absolutely require truly independent legal counsel to ensure their legal and human rights are protected,” says Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada.

Once Barrick stopped years of denial of violence by mine security guards against local indigenous men and women at the remote mine, the company put in place its own “remedy program” at the mine site for the female rape victims. However, these women did not receive independent legal advice. And in return for remedy packages that many women themselves felt were not commensurate with the severe harm they had endured, women were required by Barrick to sign away their right to take civil action against Barrick and its subsidiaries.

“Our interviews with victims of rape by mine security in 2008, 2009 and 2013 provided evidence not only of the incredible extent of the problem, but also, once Barrick started offering ‘remedy packages,’ that women were insulted by what they were being offered,” says Coumans. “Public complaints over this to Barrick did improve the package somewhat, but we know that there were still women who accepted the package and signed away their legal rights only because they felt it was all they could get.”

Eleven women became clients of Earth Rights International, rejected the packages offered through the “remedy program,” and were prepared to take legal action. As a result, these women have now received the packages offered under the “remedy program,” as well as additional compensation to ensure that they would drop their legal claim.

“This case, and a similar one at Barrick’s North Mara subsidiary in Tanzania, raises serious concerns of equity for the victims,” says Coumans. “Porgeran women who suffered similar criminal offences, but did not have independent legal council willing to file a credible law suit on their behalf, were clearly at a disadvantage, and their cases should be reviewed.”

MiningWatch also questions why the remedy program for raped women was closed down as we are still receiving reports of violence by mine security.

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200 girls and women raped: now 11 of them win better compensation from the world’s biggest gold miner

Out-of-court settlement prevents human rights group EarthRights International filing a lawsuit against Barrick Gold in the United States.

A group photo of Porgera community women and men who say they were raped or violently abused at the gold mine owned by Barrick Gold Corporation. Photo: Supplied

A group photo of Porgera community women and men who say they were raped or violently abused at the gold mine owned by Barrick Gold Corporation. Photo: Supplied

Rick Feneley | Sydney Morning Herald

Eleven women and girls who were raped, gang-raped or violently molested in the Papua New Guinea Highlands have reached an out-of-court settlement with the world’s biggest gold miner, having refused to accept the “insulting” compensation paid to 120 fellow victims of the company’s security guards.

“It would be like accepting lollies as compensation,”

“It would be like accepting lollies as compensation,” one of the 11 told Fairfax Media. Identified only as Jane Doe 10, she was 14 when she and two teenage friends were raped in 2010 at the Porgera mine, owned by the Barrick Gold Corporation.

The Porgera community says security guards and mobile police at the mine have raped more than 200 women and girls over the past two decades. It says men and boys have been beaten, shot and killed for entering the open pit or tailings dumps or going near the mine’s property.

The 11 women were preparing to sue Barrick Gold in the United States, convinced they would be unable to find justice in PNG. The human rights group EarthRights International had been scheduled to file a lawsuit late last month in Las Vegas because the Toronto-based miner has major operations in the state of Nevada.

But the women reached an undisclosed settlement which is likely to be well above the 21,320 kina ($10,430) they say Barrick offered most of them. The settlement also covered the families of three people allegedly killed in violence at the mine.

Barrick says 90 per cent of the women who came forward with allegations accepted packages ranging from 23,040 to 32,740 kia under a “remedial framework” established in October 2012. It says the payouts were determined not by Barrick but an independent group of PNG women’s advocates, and they were at “the upper end of civil court judgments in sexual assault and rape cases” in the country.

These women had to agree never to seek further damages, a provision condemned by MiningWatch Canada, which investigated the abuses – as did Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and legal clinics at Harvard and New York University law schools. But Barrick said the UN High Commission on Human Rights reviewed the remedial framework and the legal waiver was consistent with UN guiding principles.

The mine’s ever-expanding waste dumps, EarthRights says, give impoverished Porgera women and girls little option but to enter the company’s property to scavenge for remnants of gold or to cross the site to reach agricultural land, commercial areas, schools and other villages.

The oldest of the Porgera 11, now aged in her 80s, alleges she was raped many times. Jane Doe 10, now 19, is the youngest, along with another girl who was also 14 when they and an older teenager were seized by three mobile policemen at the mine.

The officers each raped one of the girls. One officer has died but two are awaiting sentencing this month for their crimes.

“I brought disgrace to my community and my parents,”

“I brought disgrace to my community and my parents,” Jane Doe 10 said, speaking through an interpreter. When she returned to school she had been mocked, such is the social stigma associated with rape. She promptly left school and gave up on an education. She married young but, when her husband learned about the rape, he assaulted her and abandoned her with their young child.

The remedial framework compensation package was very low by local customary standards, say Jane Doe 10 and another of the 11 women, Jane Doe 2. To accept it would “add disgrace to the disgrace”, Jane Doe 10 said.

Jane Doe 2 was collecting firewood near the mine’s tailings dump when two security guards raped her. She said they threw her against sharp stones and she still carries the injuries. Her husband’s response to the rape was to beat her and abandon her.

Then security guards at the mine raped her daughter, also near the dump.

“We are both victims,” Jane Doe 2 said, “and now I am finding it difficult to look after my kids as well as my daughter’s.

“I treated Barrick as one of my sons. I have given my land to Barrick. But in return Barrick has not shown any respect … so now I am going to file a lawsuit,” she said on the eve of the aborted action in Las Vegas.

Mother and daughter say they still have no choice but to return to the scene of their rapes to find scraps of gold.

In 2008, EarthRights says, Barrick’s chief executive wrote in a letter to Porgeran leaders that claims of gang rape were “most distasteful, to say the least as you know these allegations to be untrue”.

Asked if it was slow to accept the abuses, Barrick’s vice-president, communications, Andy Lloyd, told Fairfax Media:

“When allegations first surfaced, the company attempted to investigate the claims but was unsuccessful in identifying victims or perpetrators.

“When Human Rights Watch came to us with credible information, we acted immediately, terminating the employees implicated in the assaults and handing over all information to the PNG police. We regret that we were unable to uncover these assaults sooner.”

Barrick bought the mine in 2006 and many assaults predate its arrival. However, a local human rights activist, Karath Mal Waka, from the Akali Tange Association, who acted as translator for Jane Doe 2 and Jane Doe 10, says sexual assaults persist. He says an eight-year-old was raped recently at the mine.

Mr Lloyd replied:

“There have been no cases of Barrick employees involved in sexual assaults since 2010. We are aware of an incident similar to the one you are describing, however it did not occur on the mine site and it did not involve a Porgera Joint Venture employee.”

Asked about the shooting of men and boys – which a local association has put at 14 deaths in the past 10 years – Mr Lloyd said:

“The mine’s security guards do not carry lethal ammunition.”

Mr Waka says more than 100 rape victims – girls and women, many married – were not covered by the remedial framework and he wants Barrick to reopen that program for them. Mr Lloyd was unaware of any extra claims and said the framework was advertised widely over many months.

The amount to be paid to the 11 women is not known. It is unlikely to approach the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars that juries in the US can award to rape victims.

When Fairfax Media covered the story in February 2011, one woman described how she and three others were raped by 10 security personnel, one of whom forced her to swallow a used condom that he had used while raping the other victims.

A 26-year-old woman was allegedly raped while collecting native vegetables near the mine in January 2011 – after Barrick had taken action. Because she resisted, her genitals were repeatedly burnt with a hot rod, the Porgera Alliance alleged.

Jethro Tulin, executive officer of the Akali Tange Association, said before the settlement:

“Barrick has been raping our wives and daughters and killing our fathers, brothers and sons for years.”

Catherine Coumans, of MiningWatch Canada, said:

“Barrick tried to push the problem under the rug for many years despite regular reports of human rights abuses committed by its security forces, documented by numerous researchers and human rights organisations.”

In a joint statement after the settlement, Barrick and EarthRights International said:

“All claimants are pleased with this resolution.”

Mr Lloyd said Barrick took action at all of its mines around the world after after the Porgera allegations came to light, and it had “zero tolerance” for human rights abuses.

“Since then, thousands of employees have undergone human rights training, we implemented a new global human rights policy, we have carried out human rights training for local police forces [including in PNG], we have formed a partnership with White Ribbon to carry out awareness and prevention programs aimed at stopping violence against women in communities where we operate.

“In PNG, we worked with leading human rights experts to develop the remedy program, perhaps the first of its kind ever implemented by a mining company. We are also funding community-based initiatives … to combat violence against women.”

Barrick is negotiating to sell the Porgera mine. Any liabilities from future victim claims would remain with the mine, Mr Lloyd confirmed.

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Canada mining firm compensates Papua New Guinea women after alleged rapes

  • Watchdog reported pattern of extreme sexual violence by security workers
  • 11 tribal women said a previous ‘remedy framework’ for 137 women fell short
Barrick is compensating women after alleged sexual violence at the Porgera mine. Photograph: Borja Sanchez-Trillo/Getty Images

Barrick is compensating women after alleged sexual violence at the Porgera mine. Photograph: Borja Sanchez-Trillo/Getty Images

Karen McVeigh | The Guardian

A Canada-based gold mining company is paying compensation to a group of tribal women and girls who allege they were assaulted and raped by police and security guards at the company’s mine in Papua New Guinea.

The 11 women, who were aged between 14 and in their 80s when the alleged crimes took place, are among 137 local Enga women and girls who had previously been compensated by Barrick Gold Corporation, after allegations of sexual violence, including gang rape and imprisonment, by armed security guards and police officers at the Porgera mine.

Most of the 137 women accepted the company’s offer of a compensation package under a “remedy framework” set up by Barrick as an alternative to the local judicial system, after a Human Rights Watch report in 2011 identified a pattern of extreme sexual violence by security personnel at the mine.

But 11 of the women initially refused and argued that the compensation – on average 23,630 kina, which amounts to $8,743 – was not adequate to remedy the multiple and continuing traumas they had suffered.

One, who was 14 at the time of the alleged rape in 2010, said what happened to her halted her education and ruined her reputation and chance at marriage in her culture. She said she wanted sufficient compensation to start a life for herself and daughter elsewhere.

Over recent days, EarthRights International – which is representing the 11 women – threatened to take legal action against Barrick in Nevada, where the company has numerous holdings. ERI is also representing three individuals in relation to alleged deaths at Porgera.

The remedy framework arose after the HRW report documented six alleged incidents of brutal gang rape by security personnel employed by Barrick at Pogera to patrol the mines and waste dumps against illegal miners. In its report, HRW said the gang rapes were part of a pattern of extreme sexual violence by security personnel at the mine. It highlighted systemic failures by Barrick that it said had kept the company from recognising the risk of abuse or responding to it.

Since then, Barrick, which took over the mine in 2006, has fired about a dozen employees who were either implicated in the assaults documented by HRW or had knowledge of them without reporting it. It also facilitated a PNG police force investigation of the allegations. Police made several arrests, but no convictions resulted.

A joint statement by Earth Rights International and Barrick, issued on Friday, said:

“Barrick Gold Corporation and Earth Rights International (ERI) have negotiated a settlement of claims by 14 individuals from Papua New Guinea, represented by ERI, in relation to a variety of alleged acts of violence concerning the Porgera Mine in PNG.”

“Eleven of these individuals are women with claims alleging acts of sexual violence, including rape. Pursuant to the terms of the settlement, the women will receive compensation under the Porgera Remedy Framework, and a payment in connection with their participation in the mediation process which led to the resolution of their claims. The remaining claims, which relate to alleged deaths, were lodged through the operational grievance mechanism at Porgera, and have also been resolved. All claimants are pleased with this resolution.”

A spokesman for Barrick said:

“Sexual assault is a horrific act under any circumstances and it goes against everything we believe in as a company. We believe we have acted decisively to address the issue of sexual assault at the Porgera Joint Venture, both to remedy past harms and ensure such incidents do not occur again.”

ERI, who have worked with the community in Porgera since 2012, have been negotiating a settlement with Barrick over the past two weeks. They said on Friday they were unable to release any further details regarding the specific claims in the deal. The terms mean that ERI will not file litigation on behalf of the 14 clients, it said.

“We have been proud to represent the people of Porgera for the past three years,” said Marco Simons, General Counsel of ERI, which has litigated major human rights suits against companies such as Shell and Unocal.

“Porgera presents one of the worst cases we’ve seen of human rights abuse associated with extractive industry.”

Barrick maintains a private security force of 450 security personnel at Porgera mine, according to the HRW report in 2011. The report acknowledged that the mine “must cope with extraordinary security challenges, including violent raids by groups of illegal miners. But Human Rights Watch research documents opportunistic, violent abuses allegedly committed by some security force members that are in no way a reaction to these threats.”

One of the 11 women represented by ERI, who is now 18, said she and two friends had been asked by mobile police officers to make string bags for them in 2010. But instead of taking them to the ATM machine for payment, the armed officers took them in the police car to their living quarters at the mine site, where they were raped. Mobile police at the mine are not employed by Barrick directly but have a support agreement with the company.

In a statement provided by ERI, the woman said:

“The rape has caused me to lose many important things in my life. I used to be a top student in my fifth grade class. I was good at school, and I enjoyed it. I could have really made something of myself if I had been able to stay in school. But after I was raped, everyone knew and my classmates were always talking about me. It was too difficult to deal with, so I dropped out. I tried to go back last year, but the kids said such bad things about me. I was so ashamed that I stopped going.”

She later married, but when her husband found out about the rape, they divorced, leaving her to look after a two-year-old daughter alone.

Another woman told how she was collecting firewood near the mine’s tailing pile when she was seized by an armed Barrick security guard and raped. She said:

“Rape is a very shameful thing in the eyes of my community, and everyone in my community knows what happened to me.”

She said:

“I want to be appropriately compensated for what happened to me, according to Engan culture. I want be able to live somewhere far away from the mine so I do not have to relive the rape that I suffered and risk the dangers of the dump.”

Earlier this year, in a separate action, a subsidiary of Barrick Gold, formerly called African Barrick Gold but now known as Acacia Mining, reached a settlement after claims brought against it in London high court over an incident that saw Tanzanian villagers killed. Villagers claimed the company’s subsidiary, North Mara Gold Mine Limited, had failed to prevent the use of excessive force by police and security services that had led to six deaths and other injuries in 2008.

In 2013, African Barrick Gold compensated 14 women who said they were sexually assaulted by security guards at its North Mara mine in Tanzania.

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Solomon’s women: ‘we’re better off without the mine’

‘women are really happy since the mine has closed’

‘families are earning $180 per day’

An artisanal miner from Nusuta village in Solomon Islands showing the gold produced from two to three hours work at the Charivunga river, Gold Ridge. Photo: Copyright Matthew Allen, February 2015.

An artisanal miner from Nusuta village in Solomon Islands showing the gold produced from two to three hours work at the Charivunga river, Gold Ridge. Photo: Copyright Matthew Allen

Money flows to casual gold diggers in Solomons

Radio New Zealand

Around 200 people in Solomon Islands have set up camps in the pits at the closed Gold Ridge mine on Guadalcanal and have taken over gold production at the site.

The local goldminers met and spoke with Australian National University researcher, Matthew Allen, during his trip to the mine in February.

Dr Allen who is studying the political economy of mining in Melanesia and is currently in Bougainville says the women in some of the families say they are earning more money mining for themselves than they ever did when the mine was operating.

“The women were really happy that since the mine has closed access to the pits has been much easier for them and has been providing them with direct access to cash income which they can use for things like school fees and for taking their kids to clinics and to the hospital and so forth.”

Dr Allen says the miners are using very basic methods, digging up the ore and washing it out in streams over astroturf-like material to catch the gold.

He says a family can produce five grams of gold on average per day which they sell to local gold dealers for US$22 per gram, which is a substantial income by Solomon Islands standards.

Listen to the full interview with Matthew Allen on Dateline Pacific ( 5 min 58 sec)

A man from Nusuta village in Solomon Islands digs for ore in Gold Ridge's pit 3 also known as Kupers. Photo: Copyright Matthew Allen

A man from Nusuta village in Solomon Islands digs for ore in Gold Ridge’s pit 3 also known as Kupers. Photo: Copyright Matthew Allen

Full Transcript

Around 200 people in Solomon Islands have set up camps in the pits at the closed Gold Ridge mine on Guadalcanal and have taken over gold production at the site.

The local gold miners met and spoke with Australian National University Researcher, Matthew Allen, during his trip to the mine in February.

Dr Allen, who is studying the political economy of mining in Melanesia, told Koroi Hawkins the women in some of the families he spoke to say they are earning more money mining for themselves than they ever did when the mine was operating.

MATTHEW ALLEN: When I visited the mine pits I estimated that on any given day there were up to 200 people, so men, women and children from the surrounding communities. Particularly from those communities in the immediate vicinity of the mine pits engaged in alluvial mining on any given day. But my sense is that since the operation has ceased in April last year people have actually moved into the pits and are living in the pits. You know people have built temporary housing and shelters. So there are many people actually, you know as we speak living in the pits and engaged in small scale gold production, gold panning on a daily basis.

KOROI HAWKINS: And how sophisticated or what kind of equipment are they using?

MA: Well it is not very sophisticated and you know this type of mining is often referred to as artisanal mining which by definition means that it is low technology. So people are more or less digging out ore and then panning it in the rivers or in other water sources, streams and so on. The most technical it gets is, I guess, fuel-powered or I guess petrol or diesel-powered water pumps which are then used to kind of hose down the ore body. The gold is then collected using kind of astroturf-like materials. So it is all fairly low technology. However people are making pretty good money from it so my interviews with people involved in this alluvial mining indicate that often it is that people are mining in kind of small family units, nuclear family units. So a family might produce around 5 grams of gold on average per day which is then sold to local buyers for around 180 Solomon Islands dollars (per gram). So as far as Solomon Islands goes that’s a pretty good cash income. Now it is really important I mention this small scale mining activity that is going on is that it provides women and indeed children with direct access to cash income. And when I spoke to women, communities from the Gold Ridge land owning communities they were really  unanimous in their view that when the mine was operating the royalty and rental payments which were going to the three land owner associations were basically controlled by men who would often use the money irresponsibly, to use their words. So you know the women were really happy that since the mine has closed, access to the pits has been made much easier for them and has been providing them with direct access to cash income which they can use for things like school fees and for taking their kids to clinics and to the hospital and so forth.

KH: Just wrapping this all up what do you see as the mine’s future and if a new developer does come in these people will I presume. have to be evicted again because they had to do it initially?

MA: Look I think the mine has had a very problematic history. It’s had a short history and it has been very checkered. You know it has opened and closed again on two occasions now. It’s changed hands many times in terms of the owner operator. Obviously there are now significant liabilities for any potential buyer I would imagine. You know, particularly given the tailings dam situation. My understanding is that for much of the time during which St Barbara operated the mine it was very economically marginal. In fact I understand they were operating at a loss due to a combination of low gold prices and very high operating costs. And I think that the expectations on the part of the land owner associations are very high so they will looking to negotiate a new agreement with any new potential operator which will give them more favorable terms. In fact there was a report just recently in one of the daily newspapers in Solomon Islands in which the chair of one of the associations was calling for a joint venture so a 50-50 equity partnership with any new operator that may come in to run the mine.

 

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Survivors of rape by Barrick Gold security guards offered ‘business grants’ and ‘training’ in exchange for waiving legal rights

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

barricks_porgera_mine-790x592

EarthRights International | Intercontinental Cry

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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Australians greenwashing the mining industry in PNG

An Australian funded project (IM4DC) says it wants to improve outcomes for developing countries from large-scale mining – but it merely covers up the destruction these mines cause to lives, cultures and the environment. Large-scale and foreign owned mining is a failed neo-colonial economic model. PNG and other Pacific countries need to be left alone to find their own development path based on their own culture and values…

Gender and Mining Symposium in Papua New Guinea

International Mining for Development Centre

IMDC symposium

IM4DC, in collaboration with The University of Queensland (UQ) and The University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) recently presented a gender and mining symposium and workshop in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Held over two-days in early August 2014 at the UPNG Campus in Port Moresby, the event brought together staff and students from UPNG, women working in the extractives industries, and other stakeholders in government and business.

The aim of the symposium was to raise awareness and understanding of how mining intersects with the lives of women, both in communities where mining takes place, and as it relates to women employed in the mining industry.

The program was designed to be inclusive, with a range of guest speakers from Australia and PNG presenting case studies and chairing roundtable discussions and workshops, where participants discussed and planned strategies for the improvement of the engagement of women with mine projects, based largely on current and future project experiences.

Presentations were given by a range of speakers including UPNG academic staff, community members from select regions including Bougainville, Lihir, Ok Tedi and the Gulf Province, and representatives from some of the major mining companies in PNG, including Barrick Gold and Newcrest Mining.

The symposium presented new research on gender and the extractives industries, heard from those experiencing challenges on the ground, and discussed new projects and ways forward.

A team from The University of Queensland, led by Dr Kirsty Gillespie from the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining (CSRM) at the Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI) travelled to PNG for the event, alongside IM4DC representative Prue Fleming.

The symposium was part of university partnership activities between SMI and UPNG’s School of Humanitarian and Social Sciences.

More than 100 people participated and the event was covered by PNG’s national television channel EM TV.

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Filed under Australia, Environmental impact, Human rights, Papua New Guinea