Police violence and illegal evictions near Papua New Guinean gold mine must be investigated

The Wuangima area just before the police began burning houses during forced evictions

The Wuangima area just before the police began burning houses during forced evictions

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2 February 2010

The government of Papua New Guinea must investigate the conduct of police who burnt down homes and threatened people with guns while illegally evicting them from land next to one of the biggest gold mines in the country, Amnesty International said today.

Amnesty International’s report, Undermining Rights: Forced evictions and police brutality around the Porgera gold mine, Papua New Guinea, documents police violence and the forced eviction by police of families living alongside the Porgera gold mine.

Amnesty International also has concerns regarding ongoing support to the police by companies involved in the mine after the companies became aware of the police activity in the area.

The mine is 95% owned and operated by subsidiaries of the largest gold mining company in the world, Canadian-based Barrick Gold Corporation (Barrick), as part of the Porgera Joint Venture (PJV). PJV supplied accommodation, food and fuel to the police under an agreement that PJV claims was conditional on the police abiding by national laws and international standards, including the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.

Amnesty International does not allege that either company is responsible for the police violence or the forced evictions, however it believes Barrick and PJV failed to respond adequately when company personnel became aware of the police activity in the area.

“Instead of being able to rely on the police to protect them, people who were living next to the mine’s facilities have been the victims of human rights violations by police who illegally burnt down their houses and destroyed their belongings and gardens,” said Shanta Martin, Amnesty International's mining and human rights specialist. 

The report documents how between  April and July 2009 police raided villages in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, burning down at least 130 buildings and forcing out families from their homes, including young children, pregnant women and the elderly.

Residents of the area where most of the evictions took place, Wuangima, told Amnesty International that they had no prior warning that their homes would be demolished and in many cases had no opportunity to take their belongings before their houses were burnt. No alternative housing had been provided to them by the government and many families from the area now depend on their relatives for shelter and food.
 
“As soon as PJV became aware that the police were burning down people’s homes right next door to the mine’s facilities, they should have recorded and reported the activity to the Papua New Guinean authorities and urged an investigation, as recommended by the Voluntary Principles,” said Shanta Martin. “Instead, PJV is continuing to support the police, and Barrick has publicly defended the police activity.”

Take ActionAmnesty International’s report urges the Papua New Guinean government to carry out a full investigation into forced evictions and police violence. The report urges the prosecution of those responsible, and for victims to be provided with remedies. It also calls on Barrick and PJV to provide information regarding the police conduct to the Papua New Guinean authorities and to urge the authorities to investigate.

Read more:

Forced Evictions and destruction of property by Police in Porgera must end
Companies accept that police forced communities from their homes near Porgera mine
Investigation into police conduct in Porgera must be impartial

Papua New Guinea: Undermining Rights: Forced evictions and police brutality around the Porgera gold mine, Papua New Guinea

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Index Number: ASA 34/001/2010
Date Published: 2 February 2010
Categories: Papua New Guinea

On 27 April 2009, police forcibly evicted villagers living alongside the Porgera gold mine in Papua New Guinea. Families were forced to flee from their homes as police burned down their houses. The government of Papua New Guinea provided no alternative housing to those affected and many of the families from the area now depend on their relatives and friends for shelter and food. This report urges the government of Papua New Guinea to carry out a full investigation into the forced evictions and police violence, prosecute those responsible, and provide remedies to those affected. THIS DOCUMENT IS ALSO AVAILABLE IN TOK PISIN. PLEASE CLICK HERE


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