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Worlds largest gold producer reins in abuses at New Guinea mine

Human Rights Watch - Wed, 20 Apr 2011 00:48 GMT
Author: Human rights Watch
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Human Rights Watch When Human Rights Watch exposed rapes and beating by security personnel of the world’s largest gold producer, the company had no choice but to take action. Human Rights Watch Senior Researcher Chris Albin-Lackey investigated and documented reports of horrific abuse taking place at a gold mine in Porgera, a remote part of Papua New Guinea’s central highlands. On the mine’s sprawling dumps of waste rock, security personnel were alleged to have carried out a wide range of crimes, including brutal gang rapes and beatings. While rumors of abuses had long been associated with the mine, Barrick Gold—the Canadian corporation that owns the mine and is the world’s largest gold mining company—had denied these claims as unfounded. When confronted with our findings, Barrick acknowledged for the first time that the allegations had substance and has since taken steps to rein in the abuses we uncovered. Joined by Human Rights Watch’s Business and Human Rights director, Arvind Ganesan, Chris presented his findings to Barrick during a full-day meeting at Barrick’s Toronto headquarters. As a result of the meeting, Barrick’s vice-president of corporate social responsibility launched a thorough internal investigation at the mine in Porgera, which echoed and confirmed our findings. Then, days before our findings were released publicly, Barrick announced the arrest of several security guards accused of gang  rape and other serious crimes. Papua New Guinea police forces are now in the midst of a comprehensive criminal investigation. Meanwhile, the company has promised to establish new, viable channels that community members can use to complain about abuses without fear of retribution. Barrick has since committed to taking a broad range of measures to prevent abuses by security personnel at the mine in the future, including much tighter oversight and monitoring by senior officials. April 14, 2011

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