You are here: HomeAfrica2021 05 16Article 1262761

Africa News of Sunday, 16 May 2021

Source: thecitizen.co.tz

UK-based miner agrees $6 million settlement to Tanzania rights abuse victims

File photo of trucks in a mine File photo of trucks in a mine

Petra Diamonds Limited, a mining giant headquartered in the United Kingdom, has agreed to pay a settlement of 4.3 million pound sterling (about Sh14 billion) following claims of serious human rights abuses at its majority-owned Williamson Diamond Mine in Tanzania that are said to have occurred between 2012 and early this year.

Leigh Day’s Media Relations manager Maxine Wolstenholme told The Citizen that Leigh Day - a law firm that represents the claimants - has agreed to the settlement on behalf of 71 claimants who allege they suffered serious human rights abuses by security personnel employed by, or contracted to, the Williamson Diamond Mine, and by police who work at and around the Williamson Diamond Mine.

However, he said, Petra Diamonds Limited has denied involvement of Williamson Diamonds employees.

“The agreed total settlement figure is £4.3 million, which includes the sum to be distributed to the claimants by Leigh Day, a contribution to the claimants’ legal expenses, and significant funds that Petra has committed to invest in programmes dedicated to providing long-term sustainable support to the communities around the mine,” he said.

He said the decision is as a result of ten of the claims by the families of those who are alleged to have been killed at the Mine.

“The claims were issued in the High Court in London against Petra Diamonds Limited, and its majority-owned Tanzanian subsidiary, Williamson Diamonds Limited in February and July 2020,” he said

Following productive negotiation between the parties, the settlement includes wide ranging measures which benefit the victims and the wider communities which surround the mine.

They include compensation where Petra has agreed to the payment of financial compensation to the 71 victims. The sums in question remain confidential to the victims. Financial training and support in accessing medical assistance will also be provided to the victims.

Community projects were a fund to establish a broad spectrum of restorative justice measures, aimed at providing economic development to communities close to the Williamson Diamond Mine over a three-year period.

The projects will be selected following a community assessment process. The projects will potentially include an artisanal mining project at the mine and an agricultural business initiative. The value of the fund will be in addition to the companies’ existing CSR budget.

Medical Support Programme Petra will develop a medical support programme to assist the wider community, with a focus on providing assistance to victims of human rights violations at the Mine.

The medical support project will include physiotherapy and rehab services, psychological support, and outreach schemes. Satellite services will act in concert with the hospital to bring medical screening closer to local communities.

Community access to the Mine, measures will be put in place to allow local residents to access certain parts of the mine to collect firewood and or graze animals.

Further claims a provision has been made for up to 25 further claims to be fully investigated and added to the cohort. A substantive framework for the valuation of the second cohort of claims has been agreed as part of the settlement process.

Operational Grievance Mechanism, an independent Operational-level Grievance Mechanism (‘OGM’) has now been agreed and the aim is to develop and implement it within a year.

The OGM will be compliant with UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. It’ll allow any future complaints of personal injury, sexual violence, false imprisonment and other human rights abuses at or around the Mine to be resolved locally, fairly and quickly.

An independent monitor will observe and publicly report on the OGM on a sixth monthly basis. If the OGM does not function as agreed, Leigh Day retains the right to offer legal representation to those with valid grievances.

Access to hospital records, in the spirit of transparency and cooperation, the companies will disclose to complainants and their legal advisors all documents held in relation to their cases, including medical records stored at Mwadui Hospital.

Human Rights Defenders Police where the companies have also agreed to embed a non-harassment and victimisation policy to safeguard victims and human rights defenders against future harm or intimidation within 2 months.

Leigh Day understands that Petra will publicly state the steps it will take to ensure accountability of the perpetrators of these serious human rights abuses, including the nature of their ongoing cooperation with the relevant prosecuting authorities.

Contacted, the deputy minister for Minerals, Prof Shukrani Manya, confirmed they were aware of the decision to settle the aggrieved. “Petra Diamonds decided to pay the settlement despite the fact that we had not come to an agreement,” he said.

Daniel Leader, Partner at Leigh Day, said the comprehensive and wide-ranging settlement provides remedy for these victims of human rights abuses and substantial support for the wider community.

Matthew Renshaw, lawyer for the Claimants at Leigh Day, said their clients are delighted with this settlement.

Join our Newsletter