By RAID

 - July 6, 2017

New Video Details Victims Stories of Human Rights Abuses in Stark Detail

(London, 6 July 2017) – The Tanzanian government and investors should ensure Acacia Mining urgently addresses the human rights violations at the North Mara gold mine, including providing compensation to victims, as part of the current negotiations about the company’s operations in Tanzania, Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID) said today. RAID released a new video detailing the stories of some of the victims in stark detail. 

Since the beginning of the year, London-listed Acacia Mining has been entangled in a multimillion-dollar tax dispute with the Tanzanian government. On July 3, the Tanzanian government passed new legislation to renegotiate mining contracts. Executives from Barrick Gold Corporation, which holds 63 per cent of Acacia’s shares, arrived in Tanzania to help resolve Acacia’s problems. 

“Acacia Mining and Barrick Gold executives cannot sit in the offices of government officials in Tanzania and only talk about how to resolve the tax dispute and restore their profits,” said Anneke Van Woudenberg, the executive director of RAID. “Resolving Acacia’s long-running human rights problems at the North Mara mine should be central to the negotiations. Surely the days of stark profit over respect for human lives are behind us.”

Earlier this year, a number of victims from North Mara gold mine, one of the company’s most productive, instructed UK based lawyers Deighton Pierce Glynn. They claim Acacia has been unwilling to adequately compensate them for the deaths of loved ones, life changing injuries or rape perpetrated by Acacia’s security guards or police called in by the company at the North Mara mine.

In 2015, Acacia reached an out-of-court settlement with nine claimants in the UK, but dozens of earlier victims received little or no compensation, many after signing legal waivers in English, which few understand, without a lawyer to represent them.  

Since 2014, at least 22 people have been killed and 69 injured, many by bullet wounds, at or near the remote mining concession in northern Tanzania in security related incidents, according to research conducted by RAID and MiningWatch Canada (MWC). Nine women and girls have been raped. A Tanzanian parliamentary inquiry set up to look into the problem in 2016, received 65 reports of killings and 270 people injured by police responsible for mine security. Tanzanian opposition and human rights monitors believe the number is higher, estimating 300 mine related deaths since 1999.

Acacia disputes the numbers and claims the reports received by the Tanzanian parliamentarians are uncorroborated. In a statement in September 2016, it said there had been a consistent reduction in the number of intruder fatalities at the mine since 2015 and that it was investing to improve community relations.

Last week, hundreds of citizens protested at Acacia’s North Mara mine, angry at the company’s failure to adequately compensate them for the loss of their community land and farm plots. At least 60 were arrested. Those unable to pay-off the police, remain imprisoned, according to local observers.     

The company says it faces the problem of local people regularly encroaching on their mining site. The vast majority of these “intruders,” as the company calls them, are simply collecting waste rock with the hope of extracting tiny particles of gold for a small income, RAID and MWC found.

“Acacia’s response to the so-called ‘intruders’ has been heavy handed and unduly militarized, as the astonishingly high death and injury rate demonstrates,” Van Woudenberg said. “It’s clear the company has failed to exert adequate control over the actions of the security forces and left already impoverished victims with inadequate or no reparations.”

RAID and MWC raised concerns about the grievance mechanism in a letter in February 2014 and sent further detailed recommendations to Acacia in May 2016 on how its grievance mechanism should be strengthened in line with United Nations Guiding Principles and human rights law. In a written communication in January to the organizations, Acacia said it would make changes, but since then the pace of reform to Acacia’s security arrangements and grievance mechanism has hardly progressed. No new grievance mechanism has been published and no police officer or mine security guard has been charged and publicly held to account for the violent actions.

RAID and MWC continue to engage with Acacia Mining officials. To date the process has not yet led to positive results, RAID said.

“Acacia and the Tanzanian government should prioritize justice for the victims of violence and an end to the unlawful use of force,” Van Woudenberg said. “Acacia should also take immediate steps to reform its company grievance mechanism to one which is transparent, independent and trusted by the local community.”

Multimedia:  The video can be found at https://youtu.be/nShgbXfwrhI

Addendum:

On 11 July 2017, Acacia Mining published a response to RAID’s press release. In April 2017 the company published its annual report and accounts, which included two pages on security and human rights at its mines in Tanzania. RAID's response and analysis of both documents is available here

http://www.raid-uk.org/sites/default/files/raid_response_to_acacia_minin...

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