Since January, 2013, MiningWatch Canada hasÂ raised concern about the fact thatÂ Barrick Gold is seeking legalÂ immunity from victims of rape by mine security guards at the companyâ€™s Porgera Joint Venture Mine in Papua New Guinea (PNG). If these rape victims accept an individual remedy package they must sign a waiver that assures Barrick that they will never sue the company in PNG or anywhere else in the world. We have raised this concern in public letters to the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights (UNHCHR) onÂ March 19 andÂ April 2, 2013. On May 14, 77 global organizations sent aÂ letter to the UNHCHR expressing their deep concern over this. For more background, seeÂ Barrick Seeks Immunity from Rape Victims at its Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea.
Under pressure, Barrick posted aÂ note to its web site on April 16, 2013, stating that there is a new â€œversionâ€ of the legal waiver that â€œcontains much narrower terms.â€ We have repeatedly asked for a copy of the new terms to be made public but none has been released by Barrick to date. We therefore sentÂ another letter to the UNHCHR on May 14. She, or rather her office (theÂ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights), has responded. The OHCHR’s opinion makes some important positive contributions but also raises some serious concerns. Here’s the opinion, and our letter in response.