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JOHANNESBURG — A Canadian-owned gold company says it is giving cash payments and other compensation to 14 women who were sexually assaulted by police and security guards at its controversial North Mara gold mine in Tanzania.
African Barrick Gold, a subsidiary of Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corp., says it spent two years questioning more than 200 people in an independent investigation of the sexual-assault allegations, which were first disclosed by Barrick in 2011. “Fourteen women are presently receiving remediation packages,” the company said in a statement to The Globe and Mail on Thursday.
“Although the exact components of each package depends on the individual claimant, they have included cash compensation, sponsored employment to provide job training, financial and entrepreneurial training, education expenses for claimants’ children, relocation expenses, home improvements, health insurance for claimants and their families, and counselling services.”
In a statement, the London-based Barrick subsidiary described the 14 women as “victims” of sexual assault, not just complainants.
The case began when about 10 women alleged that they were arrested at the North Mara mine site and sexually assaulted by company security guards or Tanzanian police. The incidents occurred over a period of several years before their public disclosure in a company statement in May, 2011. The women told the investigators that they were taken to holding cells and threatened with imprisonment if they refused to have sex with the police or guards.
The company said it found the complaints “credible” and “highly disturbing.” It launched its own investigation by a team of experienced experts, and it turned over its findings to the Tanzanian police, although on Thursday it was unable to say whether the police will lay criminal charges against the perpetrators.
The North Mara gold mine has been increasingly controversial in recent years after Tanzanian police were implicated in the killing of local villagers who “invaded” the site in search of waste rock containing tiny bits of gold.
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