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Barrick Gold faces court in London

Mining Watch
November 6th, 2014

London-based African Barrick Gold is being sued in the United Kingdom by Tanzanian villagers for deaths and injuries allegedly caused by security and police guarding the company�s North Mara mine.

Leigh Day partner Shanta Martin, who is representing the Tanzanian claimants, is in Ottawa calling on the company and its majority shareholder, Barrick Gold Corporation, to live up to their corporate responsibility and human rights commitments.

�Impoverished people from remote rural villages who sue multinational companies often face incredible obstacles to having their claims heard by an independent arbiter,� said Martin.

Barrick Gold Corporation says it respects human rights wherever it does business and recognises the dignity of the people they interact with every day.

At the North Mara operations of Barrick�s majority-owned subsidiary, African Barrick Gold, impoverished villagers tempted onto the mine to scratch out rocks for tiny amounts of gold are regularly being shot at with live ammunition.

�Our clients naturally expect companies that say they are transparent and supportive of human rights to live up to those claims,� said Martin.

Nine local villagers are pursuing claims against African Barrick Gold 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, including the frequent use of live ammunition.

Six of the claims relate to deaths by gunshot, while three claims are brought by injured young men, including one man made paraplegic by a gunshot wound through his spine. His health is precarious.

On 19 November 2014, the Claimants in the proceedings against African Barrick Gold will seek orders from the English court requiring the company to hand over its internal documents and take other steps to get the case to trial.

�We know African Barrick Gold have these documents and have reviewed them; they have referred to the documents in correspondence since at least 2012,� said Leigh Day partner, Shanta Martin. �We will be asking the court to require the company to hand them over promptly, as we say they should have two years ago.�

It is not the first time the Tanzanian villagers have challenged African Barrick Gold�s approach to the litigation. In August 2013, the Claimants successfully obtained an injunction to stop African Barrick Gold�s subsidiary from suing them in Tanzania, where they had no legal representation. African Barrick Gold�s subsidiary applied to have a local Tanzanian court declare that they could not be responsible for the conduct of police who provide security at the mine under an agreement with the companies. The English courts blocked the tactic after Leigh Day obtained an injunction to stop African Barrick Gold and its subsidiary from proceeding.

Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada emphasises that access to information is essential for those trying to assert their rights against multinational corporations, as is the opportunity to bring their claims before a competent court.

Coumans recently returned from a human rights assessment at the North Mara mine during which MiningWatch and UK-based Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID) documented continuing incidents of lethal force used by police securing the mine. Health staff in local medical facilities told MiningWatch and RAID that at least ten victims had allegedly died from gunshot wounds received at the mine in a two-month period in 2014. In the past week, Leigh Day informed African Barrick Gold of a further nine legal claims against the company relating to incidents in 2013 and 2014.

MiningWatch and RAID also found that a grievance mechanism put in place by Barrick�s North Mara subsidiary was �seriously flawed.� Coumans stated, �It is not transparent, it is administered by mine staff in a seemingly ad hoc fashion, and the compensation being offered is neither appropriate nor reflective of the deaths and serious harm that victims have suffered and is not what the victims themselves told us they need to overcome the harm.�

Additionally, Barrick�s grievance mechanism is making provision of these inadequate remedies conditional on the victims signing away their right to sue Barrick in court for the violence they have endured. In this way the company�s mechanism is directly posing a barrier to access to justice. �This flawed mechanism should not be used by the company to prevent people from accessing the courts and having their claims independently assessed, but that is what African Barrick Gold is trying to do,� says Coumans.

Leigh Day confirms that many of their clients stated they had been specifically targeted to forgo their legal claims and sign up to the Mine�s grievance mechanism.


African Barrick�s North Mara gold mine in Tanzania has long experienced violence allegedly involving both mine security and local police who are paid under an agreement to provide security at the Mine.

For more information contact:

Catherine Coumans, MiningWatch Canada, tel: 613-569-3439, e-mail:
Shanta Martin, Leigh Day, tel: +44 20 7650 1200, e-mail:

Barrick devant le tribunal � Londres

(Ottawa, le 6 novembre 2014) African Barrick Gold, dont le si�ge est situ� � Londres, fait l�objet d�une poursuite au Royaume-Uni par des villageois tanzaniens. Les forces de s�curit� et de police, qui gardent la mine North Mara de la soci�t�, auraient caus� des blessures et des morts chez les villageois.

Shanta Martin, associ�e chez Leigh Day, qui repr�sente les demandeurs tanzaniens, est de passage � Ottawa pour faire appel � la soci�t� et � son actionnaire majoritaire, la Barrick Gold Corporation, de remplir ses engagements vis-�-vis de la responsabilit� soci�tale des entreprises et des droits de la personne.

� Les personnes pauvres qui habitent des villages �loign�s en milieu rural et qui poursuivent des multinationales doivent souvent surmonter d�incroyables obstacles pour porter leurs revendications devant un arbitre ind�pendant �, dit Shanta Martin.

La Barrick Gold Corporation d�clare qu�elle respecte les droits de la personne partout o� elle fait des affaires et qu�elle reconnait la dignit� des personnes avec qui elle interagit tous les jours.

A la base d�operations North Mara d�African Barrick Gold, la filiale dont la Barrick Gold Corporation d�tend la majorit� des actions, des villageois pauvres, qui sont tent�s � la mine d�or pour trouver des petits grains d�or parmi les rochers, font l�objet des coups de feu � munitions r�elles.   

� Nos clients s�attendent naturellement � ce que les soci�t�s qui affirment �tre transparentes et d�fendre les droits de la personne respectent leur parole � dit Shanta Martin.

Neuf villageois locaux poursuivent African Barrick Gold et sa filiale tanzanienne devant la Haute cour d�Angleterre et du Pays de Galles pour les morts et les blessures qu�ils pr�tendent �tre le r�sultat d�une utilisation excessive de la force par les forces de s�curit� de la mine et la police, y compris l�utilisation fr�quente de munitions r�elles.

Six r�clamations ont trait � des d�c�s par balle tandis que trois recours ont �t� intent�s par des jeunes hommes, y compris un homme qui est devenu parapl�gique � la suite d�une blessure par balle � la colonne vert�brale. Sa sant� est pr�caire.

Le 19 novembre 2014, les demandeurs dans la poursuite contre African Barrick Gold tenteront d�obtenir une ordonnance de la cour anglaise obligeant la soci�t� � remettre ses documents internes et � prendre d�autres mesures pour en venir au proc�s.

� Nous savons qu�African Barrick Gold poss�de ces documents et qu�elle les a examin�s; elle renvoie � ces documents dans sa correspondance depuis au moins 2012 �, a dit Shanta Martin, associ�e chez Leigh Day. � Nous demanderons � la cour anglaise d�obliger la soci�t� � nous les rendre promptement, comme ils auraient d� faire, � notre avis, il y a deux ans �.

Ce n�est pas la premi�re fois que les villageois tanzaniens contestent l�attitude adopt�e par African Barrick Gold � l��gard de ce litige. En ao�t 2013, les requ�rants ont r�ussi � obtenir une injonction pour interdire � la filiale d�African Barrick Gold de les poursuivre en Tanzanie, o� ils n�avaient aucune repr�sentation juridique. La filiale d�African Barrick Gold a demand� que le tribunal local en Tanzanie d�clare qu�ils ne pouvaient �tre responsables de la conduite de la police qui assure la s�curit� � la mine en vertu d�un accord avec les soci�t�s. Les tribunaux anglais ont bloqu� la tactique apr�s que Leigh Day eut obtenu une injonction pour interdire � African Barrick Gold et sa filiale d�aller de l�avant.

Catherine Coumans, de Mines Alerte Canada, souligne que l�acc�s � l�information est essentiel pour ceux qui cherchent � faire valoir leurs droits contre des soci�t�s multinationales, tout comme la possibilit� de porter leurs r�clamations devant un tribunal comp�tent.

Catherine Coumans est rentr�e r�cemment apr�s avoir proc�d� � une �valuation du respect des droits de la personne � la mine North Mara, durant laquelle Mines Alerte et l�organisme Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID), du Royaume-Uni, on document� les incidents incessants de force l�tale utilis�e par les policiers charg�s de garder la mine. Le personnel des services de sant� des installations m�dicales locales a dit � Mines Alerte et � RAID qu�au moins 10 victimes seraient mortes de blessures d�armes � feu subies � la mine au cours d�une p�riode de deux mois en 2014. Au cours de la semaine derni�re, Leigh Day a signal� � African Barrick Gold neuf autres r�clamations juridiques contre la soci�t� ayant trait � des incidents survenus en 2013 et 2014.

Mines Alerte et RAID ont aussi constat� que le m�canisme de grief mis en place par la filiale North Mara �tait � s�rieusement d�ficient �. Selon Catherine Coumans : � Il n�est pas transparent; il est administr� par le personnel de la mine de fa�on apparemment ponctuelle; l�indemnit� offerte n�est ni pertinente ni conforme aux morts et aux graves torts qu�ont subis les victimes; il ne correspond pas � ce dont les victimes elles-m�mes nous ont dit avoir besoin pour redresser ces torts. �

De plus, le m�canisme de griefs de Barrick pr�voit que les victimes ne peuvent profiter de ces r�parations insuffisantes que si elles renoncent par �crit � leur droit de poursuivre Barrick devant les tribunaux pour la violence qu�elles ont subies. Ainsi, le m�canisme de la soci�t� entrave directement l�acc�s � la justice. � La soci�t� ne devrait pas utiliser ce m�canisme d�ficient pour emp�cher les gens d�avoir acc�s aux tribunaux et de faire �valuer leurs r�clamations de fa�on ind�pendante, mais c�est ce qu�essaie de faire African Barrick Gold �, dit Mme Coumans.

Leigh Day confirme que beaucoup de leurs clients ont affirm� avoir �t� particuli�rement cibl�s afin qu�ils renoncent � leur poursuite et qu�ils adh�rent au m�canisme de r�glement des griefs de la mine.


La mine d�or North Mara d�African Barrick, en Tanzanie, conna�t depuis longtemps des �pisodes de violence impliquant pr�tendument les services de s�curit� de la mine et la police locale, qui sont r�mun�r�s aux termes d�un accord pour assurer la s�curit� � la mine.


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