- November 27, 2014

News that African Barrick Gold (ABG) has changed its name to Acacia Mining comes as no surprise.  The brand has become toxic and identified with human rights abuses. But can a leopard change its spots?   

 At ABG’s North Mara Gold Mine, impoverished villagers tempted onto the mine to scratch out rocks for tiny amounts of gold are regularly being shot at with live ammunition.  Nine local villagers are pursuing claims against ABG 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.  Six of the claims relate to deaths by gunshot, while three claims have been brought by injured young men, including one man made paraplegic by a gunshot wound through his spine.

And incidents of lethal force by police securing  the mine continue.  RAID and Mining Watch Canada, who conducted a joint human rights assessment at the North Mara mine in June and July, were informed by local medical staff of a further 10 victims, some of whom allegedly died from gunshot wounds since the beginning of 2014.  A grievance mechanism put in place by ABG’s subsidiary is also seriously flawed: it is not transparent, it is administered in an ad hoc fashion by mine staff and the compensation offered is inadequate.

 Investors ought to be demanding not just a rebranding but a profound shift in the way the company handles mine security and engages with victims.

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