Tanzania President Should Insist Barrick Gold Resolves Rights Abuses at Acacia’s North Mara Mine
Tanzanian and international human rights groups today urged Tanzanian president John Magufuli to address human rights issues at Acacia’s North Mara Gold Mine as part of the framework agreement with Barrick Gold Corporation, announced last week. The seven rights groups detailed their request in an open letter sent to the president.
On October 19, the Tanzanian government and Barrick announced a proposed deal to pave the way to resolving a long-running dispute over unpaid taxes and an export ban. Barrick, acting for its affiliate, London-listed Acacia Mining, in which it holds 63.9 %, said it would give the government $300 million as a goodwill gesture, a 16% stake in its Tanzanian mines, and will equally split the economic benefits from the mining operations. The two sides agreed to establish a working group to iron out further details.
The rights groups urged Magufuli to ensure resolving Acacia’s longstanding human rights violations at its North Mara gold mine, in north-western Tanzania, is at “the top of the agenda.”
“It is hard to envision a genuine partnership that benefits both sides when Tanzanian citizens continue to lose their lives or suffer terrible injuries at Acacia’s operations,” the groups say in their letter to the president. “We hope you will give equal consideration to respect for human rights and ensuring fair government revenue in the ongoing consultations [with Barrick].”
The 4-page letter details serious human rights violations at Acacia’s North Mara mine including at least 32 deaths of so-called “intruders” in security related incidents since 2014 and dozens of serious injuries. The rights groups urged Magufuli to ensure the victims are provided with adequate compensation and to launch an urgent judicial investigation into the alleged unlawful use of force by members of the Tanzanian police and mine security.
“It would be scandalous for the Tanzanian government and Barrick to walk away with the financial issues resolved, but not the crucial questions about people’s lives and respect for human rights,” said Anneke Van Woudenberg, Executive Director of Rights and Accountability in Development, one of the groups who signed the letter. “The troubling human rights record at Acacia’s North Mara mine has been well-known for years and if the Tanzanian government is going to take a stake in the mine it should ensure the abuses end and victims are granted adequate compensation and justice.”
Acacia disputes reports of human rights abuses and in a July 2017 statement said the security related incidents at the mine had been misrepresented.
Earlier this year, a number of victims instructed UK-based lawyers Deighton Pierce Glynn, claiming Acacia has been unwilling to adequately compensate them. These are the latest batch of victims turning to the judicial system in the UK, where Acacia Mining is registered. In 2015, Acacia reached an out-of-court settlement with nine claimants. Dozens of earlier victims received little or no compensation through the company’s grievance mechanism, many after signing legal waivers in English, which few understand, without a lawyer to represent them.
The Open Letter to President Magufuli is here: http://www.raid-uk.org/sites/default/files/joint_ngo_letter_to_tanzanian…
A detailed report “Adding Insult to Injury”: http://www.raid-uk.org/sites/default/files/adding_insult_to_injury_north…
RAID’s analysis of Acacia’s publication of deaths and injuries at the mine: