Activists want rights abuses included in Tanzania, Acacia Mining talks

Saturday October 28 2017

A miner inside the Bulyanhulu gold mine in northern Tanzania. PHOTO | FILE

A miner inside the Acacia Bulyanhulu gold mine in northern Tanzania. PHOTO | FILE 

By ALLAN OLINGO
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Human rights groups have urged Tanzania’s President John Magufuli to address abuses at Acacia’s North Mara Gold Mine as part of the framework agreement with Barrick Gold Corporation, announced last week.

In an open letter sent to President Magufuli, the seven rights groups urged him to place the matter at “the top of the agenda.”

Last week, Dar es Salaam and Barrick Gold announced a proposed deal to pave the way to resolving a long-running dispute over unpaid taxes and an export ban. The two sides agreed to establish a working group to iron out further details.

“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. We hope you will give equal consideration to respect for human-rights and ensuring fair government revenue in the ongoing consultations with Barrick,” the groups said in their letter.

The activists are seeking President Magufuli’s intervention that will see him launch an urgent judicial investigation into the unlawful use of force, killings, injuries, rape and other human-rights violations by the Tanzanian police and mine security at the North Mara mine in northwestern Tanzania.

They also want to ensure victims of abuse receive adequate compensation from the company through a rights-compatible grievance mechanism and or through national or international judicial proceedings.

“We insist that Acacia Mining stop using legal waivers to settle complaints through their grievance mechanism, which are not considered best practice. We also want Acacia to publish in full its current in-house grievance mechanism, its investigations policy and other related documents so local residents are fully aware of how their complaints will be treated,” the letter reads.

Violations

Additionally, they want Tanzania to publish in full the 2016 Parliamentary inquiry report into human-rights abuses and other issues at the North Mara mine.

The four-page letter details serious human-rights violations at the mine including at least 32 deaths of “intruders” in security-related incidents since 2014 and dozens of serious injuries.

The rights groups urged President 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. 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,” said Anneke Van Woudenberg, executive director of Rights and Accountability in Development, one of the groups that signed the letter. 

Dar es Salaam is yet to react to the letter while Acacia Mining and Barrick declined to comment.